Survey shows event planners responsible for ‘alarming’ food waste

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The truth about food waste at meetings and events became a little clearer today when a survey found a third of planners throw away at least 15 per cent of the food they commission at events.

New research conducted by Lime Venue Portfolio, in partnership with BCD Meetings and Events, underlined the need for the event industry to take a lead in tackling food waste.

The findings form part of Chapter One of the Beyond Food Report, which is out today, and puts a spotlight on the issue and encourages organisers to take steps to address it.

The research surveyed more than 60 event organisers and found:

  • Just under a third of event professionals admit to throwing away at least 15% of the food they commission at events…
  • With 18% saying it was closer to 20% and…
  • 2% claiming that the amount exceeded 20%
“Every day we hear about food shortages in the world, and we should be all playing our part to reduce food waste wherever we can. Event organisers are well placed to advise and support clients, caterers and venues with their food orders and work with them to tackle this issue,” said Jo Austin, Sales Director, Lime Venue Portfolio. “These findings are alarming but won’t be completely surprising to those who work in the industry. We all know how the fear of running out can lead to over ordering, but these statistics lay bare the amount of food waste that is being generated.”

The research also demonstrated how important tackling food waste is to delegates. The survey also demonstrated that of all food-based event feedback, a high proportion was on waste. Further findings of the research also show the types of food that are being wasted;

  • Salad 40%
  • Breads 16%
  • Desserts 13%
  • Vegetable side dishes 11%
The groups that were thrown away least were ‘alternative tastes such as spicy food (1.5%), ‘fruit’ and ‘alternative mains e.g. gluten, vegan, veg etc.’, which accounted for just under 5% each respectively.

The reports also looked at ways of addressing food waste. These included bringing guests into the conversation; get the numbers right; creating new menus; using everything; Getting chefs out into the event, and, finally, sharing the numbers on food waste to help others.

John Kelly, director, Marketing EMEA, BCD Meetings & Events, said: “We need a modern approach to food. We need to break up traditional formats of buffet spreads and gala dinners and incorporate food in a way that adds to the experience. For me, it’s about getting the chefs out onto the floor, cooking to order and interacting with the guests. This maintains a stronger control over what’s going out and how much wastage there is.”

James Lancaster
Written By
James Lancaster

AMI editor James Lancaster is a familiar face in the meetings industry and international association community. Since joining AMI in 2010, he has gained a reputation for asking difficult questions and getting lost in convention centres. Proofer, podcaster, and panellist - in his spare time, James likes to walk, read, listen to music, and drink beer.


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