How caterers avoid waste by giving customers what they want

by Alistair Coats

Food waste statistics never fail to amaze. Around one in every six meals ordered away from home is thrown away in the UK. The average person in the US generates about four pounds of waste every day. Of the 1.3billion tons of food wasted each year, 40% is from restaurants.

Food waste

There’s good reason to minimize waste as a caterer delivering to customers. Waste disposal costs are rising, and we’re increasingly conscious of the matching environmental cost of growing, harvesting, transporting, preparing and then discarding huge amounts of food. As we collectively become more aware of the problem, customers will be more and more likely to buy from places that are doing something about it.

An app that fills a hole here is, which helps connect restaurants with customers who are keen to buy food that would otherwise be tossed away. Through the app people prevent waste and pay a reduced price for their meal, while the restaurant earns incremental revenues.

Last year we blogged about waste from the kitchen perspective, but it’s important to also think about the customer that is being delivered the food. Just because waste is dumped away from your restaurant premises, in your customer’s bin, doesn’t mean that you avoid the cost. That customer will associate that waste with you and might look for a provider that offers exactly what they need - and nothing else - in future.

Cost Sector Catering magazine recently featured an article looking at ways that university staff and students are working to tackle waste. It featured an interview with Jenny Car, citizen campaigns project manager at waste charity WRAP, who said that portion size is an important consideration: “Back-of-house, consider your offer and ask, for example, do you need to offer a side salad with every meal?”

This is one of the reasons that we developed ‘Modifiers’ in Spoonfed. Corporate catering can be very wasteful, with generic platters of delicious, fresh sandwiches being delivered one day, and hard, stale egg-mayo ones being dumped in the trash the next. Combined with our Group Ordering function, Modifiers let Spoonfed end users select their own food and choose exactly what they want. So the customer gets what they want, the caterer reduces costs, and less is thrown away - a win, win, win.

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