It’s Time to Act on Food Waste

By Unilever Food Solutions, PRNE
Tuesday, September 6, 2011

LONDON, September 7, 2011 -

Unilever Food Solutions Unites Industry to Take Action Against Food Waste

For the first time, Unilever Food Solutions invited more than 100 of the industry’s biggest players and trade associations to join them at their global headquarters in London to debate how they could to tackle the issue of avoidable food waste together as an industry.

At the event, the food giant released research about consumer attitudes to avoidable food waste when going out for a meal. UK statistics reveal that when it comes to leaving food on their plate when eating out, people from Belfast are the most wasteful in the UK.

However when it comes to clearing their plates, people who live in Worcester are the most conscientious and most of the time will eat everything in front of them.

Forming part of its ‘United Against Waste’ campaign, the global food giant commissioned OnePoll* to conduct research across 29 towns and cities in the UK to get consumers’ attitudes to the amount of food that gets wasted when dining out. This research backs up its call on the food industry to join forces and work with chefs, restaurants and consumers to take action and address the issue of reducing avoidable food waste.

When it comes to leaving food on the plate the UK’s top ten are:

1. Belfast
2. Brighton and Hove
3. Cardiff
4. Chelmsford
5. Norwich
6. Wolverhampton
7. Birmingham
8. Portsmouth
9. Oxford
10. Newcastle

In the UK 400,000 tonnes of avoidable food waste is thrown away every year when we eat out. This equates to 65% in the kitchen, when chefs are preparing our food, and 30% from consumers leaving food on their plate**. When you add it all up the foodservice industry is throwing £722 million worth of food away every year or 21 tonnes per eatery. That’s the equivalent weight to three double decker buses for every restaurant in the country.

Tracey Rogers, managing director, Unilever Food Solutions said: “The phrase waste not want not comes to mind. Findings from our World Menu Report tell us that consumers are concerned about the amount of food that is wasted when eating out and we know that if given the option they’d leave items they didn’t want off of their order.  

“The industry has got a huge role to play and we must work together to achieve concrete results. Some caterers are already reducing avoidable food waste very effectively and we have also launched a toolkit for reducing food waste, Wise up on Waste, which will help caterers to make their businesses more efficient. Together we must be united and share best practice so we can tackle the issues head on.”

The UK research conducted into the eating out habits of the country has revealed some interesting statistics. When it comes to food waste when eating out women are more concerned about the issue than men. This might be due to the fact that men are much more unlikely to leave anything on their plate. Over half the men surveyed said they always eat everything that’s served up in front of them.

However, when we eat out men are more particular about what they eat, 12% of men cited bad food as a reason for leaving something compared to only 8% of women.

Age is also an important factor. The older generation are more likely to clear their plate and young people are more likely to order more than they can eat, and yet feel the most guilty when they cannot eat it.

When questioned about whether they’d like to be given the opportunity to leave something off their order they know they’re not going to eat, 8/10 women and 7/10 men said they would and they’d be willing to pay the same price. 60% of people also stated that the reason they leave food on their plate is because they are too full.

Research into the eating habits of UK consumers when eating out supports the findings from Unilever Food Solutions’ second World Menu Report, announced globally today. This report highlights that food waste in professional kitchens is high on the consumer agenda. Eight out of 10 people (84%) of those questioned globally stated that they were concerned with not only the amount of food wasted everyday in dining establishments but also the way in which this waste is disposed of.

Tristam Stuart, food waste campaigner said: “The findings of the World Menu Report demonstrate that the spotlight on food waste is shifting from in-home to out-of-home. Food waste is a global problem - but it’s also an opportunity for businesses and the public to save money and the environment. There is an urgent need for large businesses like Unilever Food Solutions to galvanise action in the foodservice industry to tackle this issue.”

Notes to Editors

United Against Waste

Unilever Food Solutions is calling the foodservice industry to form a coalition to bring them all together on the issue of avoidable food waste out of home. The first event was held in London today (7 September) and was attended by 100 key industry associations, organisations and the waste advisory body WRAP.

The World Menu Report: ‘Sustainable Kitchens - Reducing Food Waste’ follows on from Unilever Food Solutions’ first Report launched in January this year. The World Menu Report: ‘What’s in Your Food?’ provided a global snapshot into consumer attitudes and opinions towards food when eating out-of-home, and identified that consumers were demanding more information about what’s on their plate. That ranged from details around fat and calorie content to where the ingredients were sourced from and prepared.

For a copy of the World Menu Report 2 findings, please visit the Unilever Food Solutions’ website at  

Tristram Stuart

Tristram and a partnership of charities fed 5,000 people in Trafalgar Square using ingredients that otherwise would have been wasted. Tristram is an author and environmental campaigner and is on the advisory board of the Sustainable Restaurant Association. In 2011 he was awarded the international environmental award, The Sophie Prize.

29 towns and cities surveyed by OnePoll in order of food not eaten by consumers when dining out.

  1. Belfast
  2. Brighton and Hove
  3. Cardiff
  4. Chelmsford
  5. Norwich
  6. Wolverhampton
  7. Birmingham
  8. Portsmouth
  9. Oxford
  10. Newcastle
  11. Southampton
  12. Leeds
  13. Cambridge
  14. Aberdeen
  15. Manchester
  16. Sheffield
  17. Glasgow
  18. Edinburgh
  19. London
  20. Bristol
  21. Liverpool
  22. Gloucester
  23. Plymouth
  24. Coventry
  25. Aberystwyth
  26. Leicester
  27. Swansea
  28. York
  29. Worcester

*OnePoll surveyed 3,050 people in the UK, August 2011

** Sustainable Restaurant Association, ‘Too Good to Waste’ report, September 2011

For more information, please contact:
Clare Basire
William Murray Communications

Donna White
William Murray Communications


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