WORLD – A new research done on behalf of Champions 12.3 has revealed that for every US$1 invested by food service operators in reducing food waste, more than US$6 was saved in operating costs.

This involved caterers serving hospitals, schools, sports arenas and other facilities with an aim of implementing food waste reduction programs and reducing inefficiency realised in food wastes.

The research, which examined 86 sites in six countries based on financial cost and benefit analysis indicated that caterers achieved a 36% reduction of food waste in just one year by weight on average.

Data collected from sites located in China, Ireland, Norway, Singapore, Sweden, and the United Kingdom showed that 79% of sites were able to keep their total investment in food waste reduction below US$10,000 while 64% recoupled their investment within the first year.

The food service operators embraced investments in the food reduction programs including purchasing smart scales or similar technology to measure their food waste, training staff in measurement and techniques to reduce waste, and redesigning menus.

Return on investment was realised from reducing purchase costs by buying less food, increasing revenue from new menu items developed from unsold food or those considered ‘waste’, together with waste management costs.

“Taking action across the food industry is vital if we are to halve global food waste by 2030,” said Dave Lewis, Group Chief Executive of Tesco and Chair of Champions 12.3.

“As Chair of Champions 12.3, I’m delighted to be able to share today’s report, which clearly shows that reducing food waste in the catering sector isn’t just the right thing to do, it also makes good business sense.”

FAO’s Save Food report reveals that about one third of the food produced in the world for human consumption every year, approximately 1.3 billion tonnes are wasted.

While food loss and waste accounts for $940 billion in economic losses and 8% of global greenhouse gas emissions annually with tremendous economic, social, and environmental consequences, it is preventable, according to the report.

Commenting on the matter, Marcus Gover, Chief Executive of WRAP said reduction of food waste for businesses would help achieve the UN SDG 12.3 which aims to halve food waste by 2030.

According to him the report, co-authored by WRAP and WRI is vital in improving customer service while reducing costs and the impact of food waste on the environment.

Liz Goodwin, Senior Fellow and Director, Food Loss and Waste at World Resources Institute said, “This report has real-world lessons that can be applied in company kitchens today.

“The catering industry has been a leader in piloting creative solutions for reducing pre-consumer food waste.

The task now is to expand the pilots and for those in the industry to learn from what others have seen success doing.

This is critical for companies to realize the financial benefits for themselves and contribute to the global effort to halve food waste.”

The report recommends five actions for achieving successful reduction programs that is, generation of food waste inventory; engaging staff; starting with a small-scale pilot phase; reducing overproduction and repurposing excess food.