[Skip to content]

FM World logo
Text Size: A A A
17 October 2019
View the latest issue of FM
Sign up to Facilitate Daily >
FM World daily e-newsletter logo


Credit: Getty Images
Credit: Getty

6 June 2017 | Herpreet Kaur Grewal


Earlier this year waste and recycling advisory body Wrap revealed that an estimated 7.3 million tonnes of household food waste was thrown away in 2015 – up from 7 million tonnes in 2012.

A report from the Environment Food and Rural Affairs Select Committee in April reveals that a third of food produced for human consumption is lost or wasted globally and in the UK over £10 billion worth of food is thrown away by households every year. Food waste has “grotesque economic, social and environmental costs”, it says, highlighting that it is estimated that the equivalent of one in six meals served in the UK food service industry is wasted.

One of the report’s recommendations was for the incoming government to require food businesses and retailers to separate food waste. 

This should be done through a phased approach, applying first to businesses that produce more than 50kg of food waste a week, then applying to smaller food businesses that produce between 5kg and 50kg of food waste each week, it said.

Although household food waste in the UK makes up 70 per cent of the post-farm gate total, with hospitality and food service constituting 9 per cent, an argument remains that the  catering sector should also make reductions for both ethical and financial reasons.

Better technology

To that end, a report by the technology firm Omnico suggests that contract caterers can use technology to solve food waste problems on their sites.

In a survey it conducted as part of the report, Omnico interviewed 153 people in the contract catering and food services industry on their current use of technology and future ambitions to improve their customer engagement and revenue through new technology solutions. 

It found that 54 per cent of respondents – senior figures in contract catering and food services – wish for technology to provide more accurate predictions of food and footfall to minimise food waste.

The survey focused on the attitudes towards technology in the sector. It also discovered that the contract catering sector broadly believes that a better use of technology would help to reduce queuing times and therefore improve footfall – such as through offering customers the ability 

to pay through a mobile app.

Nearly half (48 per cent) of respondents in the survey said they want to use technology to offer personalised discounts based on what the customer has previously bought – 41 per cent wish to offer a loyalty programme through a mobile app.

Seamless experience

Mel Taylor, chief executive at Omnico, said: “Caterers can now see they must give their diners a more all-encompassing, technology-based experience that extends beyond the canteen or dining room doors and works without hiccup or snag whichever touchpoint is used.

“It this seamless experience that is the key to big improvements in revenue by reducing waste and queuing while increasing loyalty and choice. Up to one in five respondents, for example, can see that engaging with customers through a mobile app is a key method of boosting revenue.

He added that the contract catering business “just needs to be much smarter about using technology to unify experiences… across multiple touchpoints”. 



Sam Hurst, CEO of Grazing Catering

“Our business model is based on flexibility and this applies across the board. We actually supply each site with a tablet and a comprehensive wastage and stock ordering form to complete immediately after lunch service each day. This information is then fed back to our HQ and kitchen in real time so that we can constantly adjust production quantities and minimise wastage on a day-by-day basis.  

“With real-time data flowing between each of our sites and our head office, we don’t have to wait until the end of each week or month to detect patterns after wastage has already occurred.”

Lin Dickens, marketing director, Bartlett Mitchell

“We’ve actually developed a process to check our food waste every day via our intranet system. For us, a strong waste strategy is just about doing what’s right for the environment but it actually makes business sense. 

“Being able to drill down on areas of the menu we need to reduce waste is a key driver to keeping costs and waste to a minimum. We utilise technology alongside ‘Waste-ed’, our educational programmes which we run regularly. 

“Our systems even show us where the waste goes – be it to landfill, anaerobic digestion or recycling some other way. Technology enables us to get to know about it and measure it. After all, what gets measured gets monitored.”