Guardians of Grub Stand Up For Food month creates a stir in the UK’s commercial kitchens

9th September 2019

Food waste is off the menu this September, as the UK’s hospitality and food service sector unites to tackle the one million tonnes of food waste arising from commercial kitchens, restaurants, pubs and wherever food is served to order; worth nearly £3 billion per annum.

A dedicated month of action, Stand Up For Food, is underway spearheaded by the resource efficiency agency WRAP as part of its Guardians of Grub campaign. It is supported by the Government’s Food Surplus & Waste Champion Ben Elliot, well-known chefs including Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, Skye Gyngell, Adam HandlingMelissa HemsleyKen HomAnna Jones and Thomasina Miers and major businesses and trade bodies.

During September, the UK’s busiest bars, pubs, restaurants, hotels, quick service outlets, cafes and catering companies will make sure they Target, Measure and Act on food waste. From street food to Michelin star, the Guardians of Grub’s influence stretches the length and breadth of Britain encompassing every division of the businesses involved. From kitchen staff to management, all will ensure food waste prevention is front of mind and that they measure and minimise food wastage in their own operations.

Food Surplus and Waste Champion, Ben Elliot“It’s truly time to Stand Up For Food – food need not be wasted. This brilliant month of action, led by WRAP, empowers every food business, ensuring that food waste is taken off the menu. To the gallant Guardians, I recommend the brilliant resources provided by WRAP, created to help tackle this very important issue.”

Ken Hom, OBE, “We can all help save the planet and our future by starting with ourselves in the industry. We who prepare and serve food should do everything possible to adjust our wasteful habit of discarding perfectly good food. Before throwing anything away, think about how it can be used. Garlic peels, for example, are wonderful in a roast or stock. Leftover vegetables can be used to make a delicious savoury soup. Food is as precious as our planet and if we work together as Guardians of Grub, we will be able to make the world a better place, without food waste.”

Adam Handling, Chef Owner of Adam Handling Restaurant Group, “I’m thrilled to be supporting the #StandUpForFood Campaign as one of its Guardians of Grub ambassadors. Reducing waste in the industry is something I’ve always cared passionately about, and it underpins every one of my restaurants. Everyone in the group shares a passion for minimising waste, and our staff training programmes make sure that every member of the team is trained in sustainable practices. That’s why it’s so important campaigns like this exist so we can help transform the way this industry operates. It’s staggering to think that over one million tonnes of food is thrown away each year by the hospitality and food sectors, the majority of which can be eaten if we just use a little imagination! At my restaurants, we’re always looking for ways to prevent food waste; for example, we have our own food lab installed where we love to ferment and pickle ingredients like tomatoes or cabbage, so that they can be used all-year round as opposed to being needlessly thrown away when they go out of season or over-ripen.”

Melissa Hemsley, cook, author and sustainability columnist Vogue "I would encourage all food lovers to take part in the Guardians of Grub #StandUpForFood month to help to make a real collective difference to waste less food. If we can rethink *waste* as ingredients in their own right, get creative with menus, and help inspire diners to try to cook something at home that they might otherwise have thrown away, then we all benefit massively. It feels good to play our part in the food waste fight, to help to make a difference, to respect and reconnect to the food we eat and to our farmers and local community. I'm excited to share food waste tips with other Guardians of Grub this month, there's always something else to learn and a clever swap or positive habit to take on.

Anna Jones, cook and author of A Modern Way to Eat "Reducing food waste is one of the most impactful things we can do to help the planet. At home and in restaurant kitchens we need waste champions - people who remind us to respect food, to use up every last bit."

Thomasina Miers, chef and food writer "I am passionate about food and bringing new tastes to the table.  Our generation has more access than any before to an incredible range of flavours from around the world but by throwing it away we are massively impacting climate change to the detriment to future generations.  Whether at home or in restaurants, I make sure that we make the most of food and avoid wastage whenever we can.  I am so delighted that the Guardians of Grub are bringing so much focus to this important environmental issue, and encourage all chefs to join the month of action and to Stand Up For Food.”

Peter Maddox, Director WRAP said “Food waste usually goes unnoticed in relation to climate change, but the reality is that we won’t stop temperatures rising if we fail to address the problems within the food system. We see no place for food waste on any UK menu, and I’m confident Stand Up For Food will be a great success, and an important moment in the war on food waste. This is the largest, most inclusive campaign we’ve ever undertaken with the hospitality and food service sector and key has been recruiting the Guardians to make this happen in their own businesses, and arming those people with the right resources to help. And while we focus attention on one industry in September, it’s a moment too when we can all think about how we all contribute to food waste, and what we can do to limit that – it’s food for thought.”

During Stand Up For Food month, kitchens and staff will use a range of free resources produced by WRAP that share best practice on reducing food waste. These include guidance and resources to help measure and review food thrown away. The priority for September is food waste measuring, after which it will be easy for businesses to pinpoint where and why food waste occurs in their operations, and work out how to stop good food ending up in the bin. At its heart, the campaign is about helping businesses make simple, low-cost changes to how food is procured, prepared and presented that reduce the amount needlessly thrown away. Case studies outlining the savings made are being published on the Guardians of Grub website*.

While Stand Up For Food month is all about business action, consumers may see subtle changes when they dine out in future as a result. Plate waste, the uneaten food returned to kitchens, currently accounts for nearly one third of all food waste from the sector with commonly wasted items including potatoes, bread, pasta, rice, salads and garnishes. These leftovers can be examined through menu reviews to investigate ways to limit the wastage of these popular dishes**. 

Guardians of Grub are also at work within the catering sector to tackle food waste at public venues. Olympia London has its own Guardians of Grub working with its catering partners across the entire estate.

Ends - Notes to editor 

  • Guardians of Grub resource website: www.guardiansofgrub.com #GuardiansofGrub #StandUpForFood. 
  • The Guardians of Grub campaign accompanies a dedicated Action Plan for the sector, published by WRAP this year, which sets out specific milestones the sector needs to achieve to play its part in delivering on the UK’s part in the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goal 12.3 (to halve global food waste by 2025), and the UK Food Waste Reduction Roadmap. These include action to reduce food waste within preparation and service, and reducing consumer waste.
  • *The hospitality and food service sector can use the Guardians of Grub materials and standalone spreadsheet. The tools are compatible with Unilever Food Solutions’ Wise Up on Waste tool www.wiseuponwaste.com, and are free to use.
  • **For example, The Airport, a busy food-led pub at Manchester Airport owned by Robinsons Brewery, measured food waste from preparation, spoilage and plates and based on the insights gained made changes resulting in a 16% reduction in food waste, saving an estimated £2,950 in food purchase costs. It found coleslaw and sauces were often returned to the kitchen untouched. As a result, it began to offer coleslaw and sauces to customers rather than serving them automatically. Now, instead of using eight tubs of coleslaw a day the pub uses just one, helping to reduce the amount wasted. The Crieff Hydro Hotel reviewed how it offered toast and jam to customers based on a review of bread waste, making savings of £10,000 by introducing simple changes such as toast on demand, at no additional cost. The Balloon Bar at the University of Bristol removed salad from the buffet due to high wastage levels, but retained it on the menu as an option. Other case studies can be found at www.guardiansofgrub.com 
  • Diners concerned about food waste when eating out can take simple steps to be proactive about plate waste: If you never eat certain parts of a meal (side salad / garnishes) why not ask for the meal without them? Or perhaps ask for left-overs to be bagged or boxed if you want to take away unfinished food that could be eaten later. Many people happily take uneaten pizza slices home and eateries are happy to pack uneaten items rather than see them wasted. These can make a delicious free lunch for the next day.  

Statistics 

  • One million tonnes of food prepared in the hospitality & food service sector every year is thrown away – 75% of this food could have been eaten. That waste equates to one in every six meals served being wasted. 
  • The sector produces ten per cent (one million tonnes) of the total 10.2 million tonnes of food waste (post-farm gate) in the UK each year. The average cost of food waste for an outlet is £10,000 each year. In total, food wasted by the sector is worth nearly £3 billion. 
  • WRAP found 21% of food waste arises from spoilage, 45% in preparation and 34% from plate waste. In some businesses, plate waste can be much higher.
  • WRAP found that 18% of food purchased by the sector ends up in the bin.
  • Previous research by the World Resources Institute and found a high return on investment for activities implemented to reduce food waste. The average business saving (hotels, restaurants and catering), was around £7 for every £1 invested by a business into reducing food loss and waste.
  • First established in 2000, WRAP is a not for profit organisation which works with governments, businesses and citizens to create a world in which we source and use resources sustainably. Our impact spans the entire life-cycle of the food we eat, the clothes we wear and the products we buy, from production to consumption and beyond. 
  • UK businesses involved in WRAP’s original Hospitality and Food Service Agreement saved an estimated £67 million through their combined actions to prevent food waste over the three-year period from 2012 to 2015. Food waste prevention activities alone saved an estimated 24,000 tonnes of food from being thrown away cumulatively over the three years of the Agreement, the equivalent to 48 million meals.
  • For further information: Ian Palmer, WRAP tel. 01295 819 677 ian.palmer@wrap.org.uk www.wrap.org.uk @WRAP_UK 

Supporting quotes 

  • Matthew Norton, Director of Corporate Affairs and Policy, Apetito “As providers of nutritious meals for the health and care sector we have long recognised the importance of food as medicine but increasingly as a valuable natural resource. We understand the environmental cost of food production and believe that nothing produced should go to waste, especially with growing numbers of people experiencing hunger, malnutrition and food insecurity in the UK. Working with our customers to implement the Target, Measure, Act methodology, we realised that in the health and care sector there were opportunities to help significantly reduce food waste. By working with teams in hospitals and care homes to increase understanding of portion sizes, to measure food waste clearly and consistently, and to take ownership of reviewing and acting on the data collected, we have seen food waste reduction of as much as 50%.  We encourage all hospitality and food service professionals to #StandUpForFood and take action on food waste with the Guardians of Grub tools.”
  • Julie Owst, Head of Sustainability and Change at Bidfood, “We’re really proud to be supporting Guardians of Grub and the #StandUpForFood month. Food waste is a huge, yet hidden, problem. Not only is it a waste of precious resources, it’s a huge, silent contributor to greenhouse gases. To get the industry and consumers talking about it, and realising that every step of the supply chain, from farm to fork, has its part to play would be fantastic. Getting the subject on the table is, first and foremost, the most important step. So let’s start all thinking creatively about how we can reduce this problem!”
  • Brigid Simmonds, Chief Executive of The British Beer & Pub Association “We are excited to support the Guardians of Grub campaign throughout September, promoting it on our social media channels and member newsletters. I hope members will get on board and Stand Up For Food in September. The campaign builds on the fantastic work the hospitality sector is already doing to reduce food waste. A hugely important environmental issue that customers care about greatly, reducing food waste will also lead to big financial savings for pubs.”
  • Richard Werran, Director Food at BSI Group (British Standards Institution) “WRAP’s Guardians of Grub campaign makes the challenge of food waste accessible and relevant, and we’re looking forward to sharing practical tips on recording and reducing food waste at the Future Food Conference hosted by BSI this October. It’s vital that food organizations embed sustainable and ethical practices into every part of their supply chain “from farm to fork” in order to remain resilient. At a time when consumers are more eco-conscious than ever, and especially shrewd about their food and beverage choices, those organizations that adopt a best practice approach to sustainability will be best equipped to remain competitive, meet customer expectations and ultimately, stand the test of time.”
  • Edward Morgan, Group CSR & Training Manager Castell Howell “Castell Howell Foods look forward to supporting our customers and WRAP during the September Month of Action. We’ve had a relationship with WRAP for numerous years, fully endorse this important campaign and trust that it will gather momentum during September and beyond.”
  • Simon Galkoff, Group Procurement Director, Casual Dining Group “Casual Dining Group is totally committed to the fight against food waste and we have signed up to the UK Food Waste Reduction Roadmap and the Guardians of Grub campaign to drive forward this focus. Over the last few months we have worked closely with WRAP to develop plans for food waste pilots across our businesses. These will be rolled-out in September, to help us tackle this challenge by tracking all elements of our food waste and allow us to assess and implement strategic measures to reduce it.”
  • Celena Fernandez, Head of Environment, Compass Group UK & Ireland “As the UK’s largest food service provider we not only have a responsibility, but an opportunity to make a real difference in the fight against food waste, which is why we’re excited to be supporting this campaign as part of our ongoing work to reduce food waste which is core to our sustainability strategy. Stand Up For Food Month presents a great opportunity to put food waste at the forefront of the hospitality agenda for September, and we hope this will encourage those in the industry to consider food waste in their everyday processes moving forward.”
  • Rohan Pradhan, Chief Operating Officer at Deliveroo, “Deliveroo is delighted to support Guardians of Grub. From supporting our environment to helping restaurants cut costs, there are huge benefits to tackling food waste and we will be sharing this important campaign with our restaurant partners. Small changes by consumers and restaurants can make a big difference and we will encourage everyone to find a way to play their part. There should not be a choice between eating sustainably and eating the amazing food you want.”
  • Tam Bowyer, Greene King Pub Co, “As part of the Stand Up For Food month of action, Greene King will be running a food waste awareness week (23 Sept) which will use Guardians of Grub materials and tools to raise companywide awareness of the sustainability impacts of food waste and to promote engagement in reducing food wastage.”
  • David Nuttall, Harper Adams University and TUCO, “This September in support of Stand Up For Food month of action, Harper Adams University is continuing to closely track and share the amount of food wasted from plates in our dining rooms. Using the Guardians of Grub resources to do this makes complete sense, and helps to measure the changes which we can share with our students. The fact is, when people are confronted with the stark reality of food waste presented in a way that can be easily understood they are shocked, and want to do something about it. We convert our waste data into equivalent cows and tractors as a relevant talking point for students. We all have a role to play and we encourage all University caterers to take action and Stand Up For Food.”
  • Peter Ducker FIH, Chief Executive Institute of Hospitality, “Every hospitality organisation faces unrelenting pressure on its margins, including galloping food cost inflation. So any business not doing everything in its power to reduce food waste is quite simply not managing the business well enough. The IOH would urge businesses which are not focussed on reducing wasted food to start measuring progress, and to look at the resources they can use through the Guardians of Grub and make September about taking action. To ignore food waste is to continue damaging both their profitability, and their environmental impact.”
  • John Wood, Kitchen Cut: “The control and management of food waste is a growing concern in the F&B industry.  A staggering one million tonnes of food is thrown away each year, yet three quarters of this is avoidable.  This is having a huge impact on profits at a time when the economic climate for the industry is inhospitable, but more importantly the effect this is having on our environment is terrifying – wasted food is sent to landfill sites, contributing to the greenhouse effect and climate change. I am thrilled to be an Ambassador for Guardians of Grub so much of this waste can be reduced and actually turned into profit with just a few simple steps.”
  • The LACA, “LACA are delighted to be supporting the Guardians of Grub ‘Stand Up For Food’ Campaign this September. We have pledged to become part of a growing movement to reduce food waste within our industry. Throughout the month we will be encouraging our partners and members alike to save food, track their food waste and ensure that less food goes in the bin. This is all the more important when, according to WRAP, around 3.6 million tonnes of food waste and surplus occur in primary production every year, costing the UK economy £1.2 billion.”
  • Andrew Shakman, CEO Leanpath, “Food waste contributes to climate change, squanders precious water resources and represents a broken food system that is unable to feed a growing population. It is a crisis that must be addressed and in kitchens around the world foodservice workers are addressing it. Leanpath is proud to empower these kitchens to track and prevent their food waste. Guardians of Grub shows these workers as the heroes they are and the real change makers in the global fight against food waste.”
  • Julia Edmonds, Managing Director at Lexington, “As caterers we have a responsibility to help beat food waste so we are delighted to be involved in The Guardians of Grub campaign and look forward to working with the team. Alongside the various technology solutions and food packaging innovations we have created our own low waste food concept –TRASHED – which we have started introducing into many of our client sites. This focuses on creating delicious dishes, utilising sustainable breeds and cuts of underused meats and vegetables that generally end up being thrown away. We know that educating our team, clients and customers about the associated sustainable and health benefits is key. We are introducing the brand slowly to ensure we encourage lasting behavioural change and highlight how we can all get creative by ‘rescuing’ food in the workplace or at home.”
  • Jonathan Lockett, Sustainability Manager Pizza Hut Restaurants, “We are constantly exploring ways to aid the reduction of food waste produced by our business. Operationally we have strong practices, measurement and targeting in place to reduce and maintain historically low levels of waste produced in our kitchens therefore, our efforts for the Guardians of Grub month of action are focused on the growth of our food donation programme. We hate to see good food go to waste so our food donation programme ensures that leftover buffet pizza can be given to people in need through a network of organisations.  We are utilising a suite of internal communications and testimonies to encourage more of our restaurants to join the programme, this will help us to feed more people and to reduce the amount of food waste that we throw away.”
  • Nick Burns, Food Development Manager, Robinsons Brewery “Most people are aware that we need to do more to protect the environment, but the first response is often that it will cost money, take too much time, and is not an immediate priority. Robinsons Brewery is fully behind the Guardians of Grub campaign and committed to reducing food waste. The work we do through our Greener Retailing Project, a waste reduction programme run in over 50 of our pubs, highlights how small, simple changes can have a big impact… helping our pubs to achieve ‘greener retailing’, and save money. That way, our licensees can do better on their bottom line and feel good about doing the right thing.”
  • Andrew Stephen CEO, Sustainable Restaurant Association, “‘The SRA will be stepping up its focus on food waste reduction in September 2019 and beyond by running the Food Waste Bad Taste programme, supporting participating restaurants to set and meet ambitious targets. We'll also be encouraging all our members to take this opportunity to prove their credentials as Guardians of Grub by working with WRAP to extend their efforts even further to ensure every marvellous morsel of the food they source and cook ends up on a customer's plate and not in the bin. And finally, we'll be reminding consumers that they have a role to play when eating out - ordering to match their appetite and taking home leftovers when possible."
  • Hayley Conick, UK MD, Too Good To Go, "Empowering people to take action against food waste is our mission at Too Good To Go, so we are delighted to be collaborating with WRAP on Stand Up For Food month. We will be supporting the initiative across our marketing activities and encouraging our partner stores to participate and help spread the word about reducing food waste. The more awareness there is around this pressing issue, the bigger the impact we can make together."
  • Kate Nicholls, CEO of UK Hospitality, “The issue of climate change is one that we all must address and it must be addressed immediately. Farm to fork is a significant driver of climate change and the hospitality sector needs to play a leading role on contributing to solutions. Reducing food waste is something we all should be addressing, both personally and professionally, to help reduce emissions. Guardians of the Grub is a great initiative, highlighting the issue of food waste and providing solutions to tackle it. We will be making sure the scheme is at the forefront of our members’ plans across September and we will be encouraging companies to get involved.”
  • Marc Zornes, CEO and Co-Founder, Winnow “Chefs play a crucial role in the food system - they are the conduit between producers and consumers. To all of our partners, and in particular our chefs who use Winnow every day, we would like to take the opportunity to thank you. It is your creativity, skill and passion which is creating a more sustainable, more efficient hospitality sector for us all. The ‘chef champion’ story in collaboration with Guardians of Grub is a photographic celebration of the chef community rising up against food waste and is taken from the perspective of the various kitchens advocating measurement of food waste, however that may be this change across their businesses.”