Out-of-home food waste prevention

In 2012, WRAP undertook research to identify barriers to, and opportunities for, food and drink waste prevention in restaurants, pubs, quick service restaurants, hotels, staff restaurants and leisure venues. 

The research was designed to enhance the evidence base around why customers waste food when eating out at restaurants, pubs, quick service restaurants, hotels, staff canteens and leisure venues in the UK. It comprised an omnibus survey, a bespoke quantitative survey of over 5,000 customers and a series of discussion groups.

The findings addressed the following research questions:

  • What is the profile of customers who eat out across different venues?
  • Who wastes food when eating out? On what occasions is food wasted? What is wasted?
  • Why do customers waste food when eating out?
  • What can be done to address food waste generated when eating out?

The research found that:

  • Close to three in ten respondents left food at the end of their meal
  • The main dish and the accompanying side dishes are the sacrificed courses. 
  • Food is left because portions are too big. 
  • Diners who are eating out for the experience rather than simply to ‘re-fuel’ are more likely to leave food at the end of their meal. 
  • Meal wasters tend to be more sensitive to large portions
  • Front of house staff could be doing more to inform customers on the size of the servings
  • The majority of diners do not want to think about food waste when they are enjoying a meal out. 
  • Three- fifths of respondents agreed with the statement ‘I don’t want to have to think about leaving food when I eat out’.