Food waste mitigation is a topic of greater discussion now than ever. Just in the EU, close to 88 million tonnes of food are wasted. For the HES-GEO blog, Magdalena Kubal-Czerwińska takes up the debate.

Stop Wasting Food (Stop Spild Af Mad), Denmark’s most significant movement against food waste and the Federation of Polish Food Banks (Federacja Polskich Banków Żywności) are bringing massive focus on food waste produced in households and in the catering business. Facts are clear: globally, we lose and waste 1,3 billion tons of food – this amount is enough to feed 3 billion people.

Close to 88 million tonnes of food are wasted annually in the EU, with associated costs estimated at 143 billion Euros. Around 700,000 tonnes of food are wasted annually in Denmark in the entire value chain from farm to fork. This number is much higher in Poland – 5 mln tonnes of food per year.

General public education, promotion, and new technologies are the main steps to reduce food waste among various social groups with different attitudes toward food and its waste. Researchers also have, for many years, dealt with the growing societal challenge of food waste at households and in out-of-home food establishments.

Deals with the growing societal challenge of food wastage in restaurants…

(see also… ‘I waste food but this is not my fault!’: Exploring the drivers of plate waste in foodservices of Turkey through the prism of neutralisation theory)

The challenge of restaurant food waste is mainly concerned for transitional and developing economies where food consumption out of home is becoming increasingly popular. In these markets, a large share of restaurant food waste comes from customer plates, which highlights changes to consumer behaviour as an important mitigation opportunity.

Studies an emerging market of out-of-home food consumption in East-Central Europe…

(see also…Sustainable consumption behaviour of Europeans: The influence of environmental knowledge and risk perception on environmental concern and behavioural intention)

However, little is known about how these behavioural changes can be activated and subsequently reinforced. The study titled “The determinants of consumer engagement in restaurant food waste mitigation in Poland: An exploratory study”, by a team consisting of employees of the University of Bournemouth, the Jagiellonian University and Pedagogical University in Kraków, explores the prerequisites of consumer involvement in mitigating restaurant food waste in Poland, a transitional economy in East-Central Europe.

Reveals the determinants of consumer engagement in restaurant food waste mitigation…

(see also…Plate waste in foodservice outlets: Revealing customer profiles and their support for potentially contentious measures to reduce it in Italy

It tests the role of such prerequisites of pro-environmental consumer behaviour as public environmental knowledge, environmental concern, anticipated regret and pro-environmental behaviour at home in shaping positive customer attitudes towards the need to mitigate restaurant food waste with a subsequent trigger of behavioural intentions to engage in mitigation. The study offers policy and management recommendations on how these behavioural intentions can be reinforced.

The article describes the determinants of active customer involvement in reducing food waste in restaurants in Poland, which allows industry specialists to use this knowledge in the future in their restaurants. This can be used in two ways: by designing public awareness campaigns and social marketing and sustainability campaigns. The role of the former is to strengthen the attractiveness of knowledge about the environment and environmental concerns to effectively reduce food waste in restaurants. The second way considers the action on specific emotions of customers, causing regret towards wasting food, which is another crucial factor stimulating pro-ecological attitudes and positive behavioural intentions in the area of minimizing restaurant food waste.

Additional reading:

Filimonau, V., Matute, J., Kubal-Czerwinska, M., Krzesiwo, K., and Mika, M. (2020). The determinants of consumer engagement in restaurant food waste mitigation in Poland: An exploratory studyJournal of Cleaner Production, 247, 119105.

Magdalena Kubal-Czerwińska is a team leader of the Food waste team.