An investigation into food waste produced in New Zealand restaurants and cafes.
Background: The foodservice sector contributes to global food waste, and its downstream effects. However, few studies have attempted to quantify the food waste produced in this sector. Given the increasing trend of consuming food away from the household, food waste in restaurants and cafes is likely to be an emerging issue. The extent of this problem in New Zealand in unknown. Objective: This research is set out to quantify food waste in New Zealand restaurants and cafes using self-reported and waste audit data. Food waste reduction attitudes, behaviours, and strategy ideas were also explored. Design: Initially 250 restaurants and cafes in the North Island of New Zealand were randomly selected from Yellow Pages print directories and invited by telephone, email and/or face-to-face to complete a 30-item questionnaire. Due to low response, a convenience sample of 73 additional businesses were approached. Businesses were asked to quantify food waste and to describe waste reduction attitudes, behaviours, and strategy ideas. Questionnaire participants were invited to take part in a 24-hour food waste audit. Results: In total, 13 restaurants and cafes returned the questionnaire (3.77% of the original sample and 5.48% of the convenience sample). A majority of businesses (N=10) reported avoidable food waste as less than 20% of the total food waste; however on-site waste audits of two businesses revealed this differed by 12% and 51%. Audited businesses reported less food preparation waste by 6% and 36% compared to quantified waste. Audited businesses also reported a greater amount of consumer plate waste by 11% and 16% compared to quantified waste. Preparation waste produced the most waste; this was either avoidable or potentially avoidable. Most businesses were satisfied with their current food waste reduction behaviours, believing they were doing well. Economic gains were the main motivator for reducing food waste (N=10). Three waste reduction strategies considered highly impactful and easy to implement were; to order products with a short shelf-life more frequently, to implement a first-in first-out system, and to allow customers to take home left-overs. Conclusion: This research has begun to fill the gap in New Zealand literature quantifying food waste in restaurants and cafes. The low response rate indicates generating interest in this fast-paced foodservice sector to engage in research is challenging. Food waste should be quantified and classified using on-site waste audits, not self-reported measures, to obtain better estimates. Businesses appear to be unaware of their avoidable food waste, so current attitudes and behaviours do not support waste reduction activities. Policy makers, researchers and practitioners can use these findings to support more sustainable practices in this sector and contribute to the ultimate goal of reducing global food waste.
Advisor: Mirosa, Miranda; Mainvil, Louise
Degree Name: Master of Dietetics
Degree Discipline: Human Nutrition
Publisher: University of Otago
Keywords: foodwaste; restaurant; cafe
Research Type: Thesis