The global report, commissioned by Unilever Food Solutions, surveyed 4,000 diners in the U.S., U.K., Germany, China, Russia, Poland, Brazil and Turkey to measure consumers' attitudes toward the food service industry's food waste disposal methods and sustainability practices. The report's focus on sustainability highlights one of the fundamental initiatives that Unilever Food Solutions is dedicated to addressing through its enhanced consultation services, specifically its "Your Kitchen" service. Through this service area, Unilever Food Solutions works with restaurant chefs and operators and provides tools to help chefs run efficient kitchens that help them work smarter rather than harder.
"The findings of the World Menu Report demonstrate that the spotlight on food waste is extending from in home to out of home," said Kara Phillips, channel marketing manager at Unilever Food Solutions. "Research has shown that a high proportion of food wasted in professional kitchens is generated at the preparation stage, so we have a role to play in helping chefs and operators to reduce these waste levels."
Food waste comprises about half of a restaurant's waste stream and is the largest component of landfills. The World Menu Report findings noted that 72% are concerned with the environmentally friendly disposal of food waste, and more than 60% felt that there should be more transparency about the sustainable practices of restaurants.
The World Menu Report also noted that reducing food waste can provide financial benefits for operators, including a reduction in disposal costs and increased kitchen efficiency. In addition, nearly half of the surveyed U.S. diners say they would spend more for meals at restaurants and food service locations that are taking steps to limit food waste.
With Americans spending 49% of their food budget in the restaurant community, the impact restaurant chefs, operators and their guests can make on reducing food waste is very significant. As part of a global effort, Unilever Food Solutions North America is kicking off a nationwide program, "United Against Waste," designed to help the foodservice industry tackle the issue of food waste by creating awareness, providing tools and resources and sharing best practices with operators in all sectors of the industry.
"Small, incremental steps can result in big differences – and we need to do more than simply spark debate about this topic," said Steven Jilleba, CMC executive chef, Unilever Food Solutions North America. "As an industry, we need to look at stock management, menu flexibility, portion sizes and many other elements involved in the journey from farm to fork in order to be able to begin tackling this problem."
From the November 17, 2011, Prepared Foods' Daily News.