Study finds customers contribute to food wastage issue

Researchers from Edith Cowan University’s (ECU’s) School of Business and Law found that 98 per cent of hospitality workers believe consumers are ordering too much food, driving food wastage in the industry.

Dr Edmund Goh and his team from ECU, they surveyed 52 ‘Gen Z’ (those born between 1995 – 1998) hospitality workers employed in Australia.

“These workers were torn between wanting to serve customers with the best meals they possibly could and minimising the amount of food wasted,” says Dr Edmund Goh.

The ECU team says that more than 7.3 million tonnes of food waste ends up in Australian landfills every year, with a large portion coming from the hospitality industry.

“Several of our respondents wanted to raise the issue of customers ordering too much food or their employers serving portions that were too large. However, the age-old mantra that the ‘customer is always right’ is clearly still at the core of customer service and meant that workers didn’t say anything,” says Edmund.

ECU students estimated that restaurants can over-cater by up to 30 per cent.

Edmund says that research results pointed to culture wastage within the hospitality industry such as poor storage (40 per cent), poor stock control (34 per cent), a lack of a take away policy (15 per cent) and a lack of time (13 per cent).

“Many of our respondents said they didn’t waste food at home and were taught to not throw food away by their parents – but at work it was the norm,” says Edmund.

Edmund says there are a number of easy fixes the industry could implement to reduce food wastage, such as controlling portion sizes, food wastage programs, proving leftovers to charitable groups and implementing a take away food policy.

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