Reducing Food Waste

Published on
4 December 2023

In the bustling world of hospitality, where chefs and teams work hard to craft tasty dishes for guests to enjoy, there is a growing concern which often goes unnoticed- the significant increase in food waste.

The Cumberland is proud to be a long-standing strategic partner of Cumbria Tourism who are helping the county’s hospitality and tourism business owners rise up against food waste through their recent partnership with Guardians of Grub. We recently had the pleasure of speaking to Gemma Procter, Cumbria Tourism’s Sustainable Tourism Officer, to find out more about the issue and how businesses can reduce waste while saving on costs. This is what we learnt…

The desire to create memorable dining experiences often leads to overproduction, resulting in substantial wastage. In fact, WRAP (Waste & Resource Action Programme) estimates that for every tonne of food that we eat, another tonne is wasted. In the UK hospitality industry alone, it is estimated that more than 1.1 million tonnes of food is thrown away each year, and 75% of that is avoidable.

As an operator in the hospitality sector, why should you care?

Firstly, and potentially most importantly in the current climate, the waste is a huge financial expense to business. WRAP estimates that food waste costs the UK hospitality industry over £3.2bn annually. That’s a lot of money that could be put to better use! To find out how much food waste is costing your business use Guardian of Grub’s cost-saving calculator.

It's not just the financial impact either, the impact of food waste on the environment is substantial, with 1kg of food waste equalling the equivalent of throwing away 3kg of CO2e. That’s the equivalent of running an electric oven for over four hours.

Another reason to pay attention to your sustainability credentials is that your customers really do care. According to WRAP’s UK Trends Survey 2020, 81% of the UK population worry about the climate crisis and 32% see a link between food waste and the environment.

The Food Standard Agency’s Public Attitudes Tracker Survey also found that, after food safety, 57% of UK consumers believe food waste is the next most important issue. Here are five top tips to reduce food waste.

1. Smart Menu Planning: Create a well-balanced and realistic menu based on the expected number of diners. Avoid offering an excessive number of dishes that may result in overstocking and leftovers. Also consider designing a menu that allows for cross-purpose use of ingredients, such as using the same type of oil for cooking, salad dressings, marinating and sautéing.

2. Accurate Reservation System: Implement an accurate reservation system to estimate the number of guests and their dietary preferences in advance. This helps in preparing the right amount of food and reduces the likelihood of excessive leftovers. Encourage customers to provide a preorder and special dietary requirements at the time of reservation to avoid preparing unnecessary dishes that might go unsold.

3. Food Waste Training: Managing food waste should be everyone’s responsibility. Encourage all staff members to undertake a short course on food waste management to ensure that everybody in the business is on board. There is a free 15-minute e-learning course available on the Guardian of Grub’s website.

4. Track your food wastage: Use tools like Guardian of Grub’s Food Tracking Calculator to keep tabs on where waste is coming from, how much it is costing per cover/week/month/year, as well as the CO2e emissions associated with your food waste, and how much you could save over a year by committing to food waste reduction

5. Consider others in need: Partner with local food banks, shelters, or charities to donate excess food that cannot be repurposed. This not only reduces waste but also contributes to community support, which is much needed around winter.

If you are based in Westmorland and Furness and would like help lowering your food waste then contact to find out about the support available through the Green Enterprise hub (funded by UK shared prosperity fund and Westmorland & Furness Council ).