|dc.description.abstract||Globally, approximately one-third (1.3 billion tons) of all food produced for human consumption each year ends up wasted throughout the food supply chain. This food waste has social, environmental and economic impacts which have been well documented. In developed countries, such as New Zealand, food waste primarily occurs during ‘consumption’, involving retail, domestic, and foodservice settings. Foodservices are estimated to waste up to 20% of all food entering their operations, but little is known about food waste within the growing café and restaurant sector.
Food waste generation in a randomised representative sample of New Zealand cafés and restaurants was investigated using a mixed methods approach. A convenience sample was later instigated in response to low participation rates from the randomised sample during data collection, within the first component of this research. The second data collection component of this research involved a sub-sample of participants recruited solely from convenience sample responders. Data collection techniques involved self-reported questionnaires during the first component (n=13, 5.2% of representative sample; n=18, 26.5% of convenience sample), researcher-measured 24-hour audits during the second component (n=11, 16% of convenience sample) and informal conversations during both components. International best-practice techniques were used to quantify and classify food waste, to identify where in the system waste occurs, and to explore staff perceptions regarding food waste generation and reduction opportunities.
Most cafés and restaurants (21 of 29) reported food waste as less than 20% of total business waste. Audited food waste found most businesses (7 of 11) generated around 4kg-10kg daily, with a high proportion considered avoidable. Nearly all had quantified avoidable food waste proportions of more than 50%, while every business self-reported the amount of avoidable food waste they generated as being less than their corresponding audit quantified amount. Customer plate waste and food preparation waste were the dominant food waste streams, with vegetables, accompaniments and lower-value carbohydrates featuring highly among commonly wasted food types cited. Food waste generation was generally perceived as minimal and businesses were comfortable with how much food waste they generated. Most businesses identified both financial (30 of 31) and environmental (23 of 31) outcomes as important motivators for reducing food waste.
These findings indicate that New Zealand cafés and restaurants generate a significant amount of food waste. The magnitude, location and causes of food waste must be understood, and a targeted action plan established. Accordingly, businesses should utilise the ‘United Nations Sustainable Development Goal Target 12.3 strategy’ steps (i.e. Target, Measure, and Act) to reduce food waste. Reduction initiatives may be most effective if they tap into financial and environmental motives, and consider customer behaviours driving plate waste.||