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Monash University researchers reveal key findings into the hospitality industry

A study by Monash Business School researchers has identified significant findings related to limiting waste in food service businesses (FSBs) and suggested implementing strategies at business and consumer levels.

Research led by Monash University staff Dr. Ananya Bhattacharya, Dr. Alka Nand, Professor Amrik Sohal, and Professor Daniel Prajogo shows that food waste hotspots are associated with consumption practices and become unavoidable without acknowledging the multiple social practices contributing to such waste.

Through data from restaurant owners, chefs, kitchen managers, and customer-facing representatives from 20 Melbourne FSBs ranging from fast-food to mid-range, and high-end, researchers emphasised the difference in food waste ‘hotspots’ of different FSB domains.

“In the case of fast-food FSBs, food waste hotspots are associated with consumption practices; however, mid-and high-range FSBs generate waste during the preparation and cooking practices (mostly kitchen and chef-related),” said Bhattacharya.

Bhattacharya explained that consumers in the fast-food restaurants mostly do not feel connected to the food due to the nature of the pre-cooked/assembled ‘fast-foods’ which leads to consumer-induced food waste.

He further explain that on the other hand, chefs’ attitudes towards perfection of food appearance and taste in mid to high-end restaurants leads to food waste.

The recommendations for hospitality businesses is they should shift perceptions, employ technology for smarter ordering, creatively use food scraps, offer optional sides, and provide staff training to tackle food waste.

“FSB managers can focus on the hotspots where food waste is generated and develop suitable mitigation strategies.

“It’s important for the manager to invest in employee training and consumer awareness to shape the deep-rooted social beliefs about food waste,” Bhattacharya said.

According to the research, consumers can still make informed choices when ordering, prioritise food quality over quantity, take leftovers home when dining out, opt for smaller portions, decline unwanted sides, and support restaurants’ efforts to reduce waste.

These efforts are seen to be not only financially efficient, but also contribute to societal well-being and environmental sustainability.

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