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Cook your way to no food waste


Ashleigh Taylor, Head of Environment, talks about Stop Food Waste Day, as seen in The Caterer

Food waste is a huge problem for everyone in our industry, but we should all feel empowered to be part of the solution.

One third of food produced for human consumption is lost or wasted globally every year. If it were a country, it would be the third largest emitter of greenhouse gases in the world after the USA and China.

In our industry, food waste is central to some of the biggest challenges we face, from environmental challenges to ongoing pressures on costs and supply. But, as a collective, our industry has the size, scale, and influence to seriously reduce food waste and its impact. We know that reducing food waste not only helps reduce our carbon footprint, it also helps us all save money – both at work and at home.

Key to tackling this issue is technology and innovation. I am a firm believer that measurement and data allow us to make informed decisions and take action. I feel proud that we have set our own ambitious target of 50% food waste reduction by 2030 – across the UK and Ireland and within Compass Group globally. In 2022 Compass Group, reduced food waste by 28% in over 2,650 sites recording food waste across 28 countries.

To drive this, within Compass Group UK & Ireland we have committed to the roll out of our food waste recording system across our kitchens, to support the accurate measurement and reduction of food waste and it’s my personal mission to deliver this. Generally, one of the issues we’ve identified is that food waste is often ‘lumped’ together, which makes it difficult to understand where and why waste occurs. That’s why we have been working hard, evolving our tech to help our people and clients to understand which stages of foodservice produce the most waste, to create specific and targeted interventions.

We’re championing our teams in unit to measure and report on food waste across five categories: out of date; plate; post-production; pre-production; and retail. This data allows us to identify further opportunities to reduce food waste and to report on the results of implementing new ideas. We are now planning to develop this capability further to bring together food waste, emissions reduction and commercial impact data. This detailed analysis, will enable us to move this agenda forward within our business, measure success and drive further efficiencies wherever possible. Our people will use facts to share insights and deliver best practice. Our clients will see increased value and us further supporting their environmental goals.

Of course, our people are key, and we rely on them all to deliver this work. Over 4000 chefs within our culinary teams have been a force for good in creating change and their knowledge and creativity helps to give a second life to food. Our chefs are amazing at getting the most out of every single ingredient – from preserving and pickling, to using the full carcass in recipes and even using peels and stalks from vegetables. We have seen them do some outstanding work to drive forward our Climate Net Zero commitment and one way this was highlighted was in Compass Group’s food waste cookbook, which launched last year to inspire others to think about using up leftover or unused food. Our units can use this as a guide and inspiration and we’ve had great feedback from clients.

On 26 April 2023, we will celebrate the seventh annual Stop Food Waste Day, a global day of action which demonstrates the growing awareness and importance of tackling this issue. Compass Group launched Stop Food Waste Day in 2017, which supports its global and UK net zero targets. Starting in our US business, the initiative launched in the UK a year later and has now gained traction as a global movement.

This year, our Stop Food Waste Day initiative will see action across our international businesses and in the UK. Our sectors will be working with the many people we serve every day, to raise awareness - from those in offices to defence sites and sports stadiums, to name just a few. We are also seeing more suppliers and clients support the initiative, with their own innovations and ideas.

Stop Food Waste Day is a great opportunity for us all to move this agenda to the next level, but it’s more than just one day. This must be a year-round focus for us all in the foodservice industry, and I would encourage everyone to look at how they can use technology and data to enhance their own progress.

For more information visit www.stopfoodwasteday.com where you can download the Toolkit, access the cookbook, and be inspired with some great ideas of what you can do to help.

As featured in The Caterer.

Ashleigh Taylor, Head of Environment – Compass Group UK & Ireland