It has recently been reported by Harden's restaurant guide that consumers find it difficult to confidently choose a sustainable dish in restaurants. In fact, just 20% of those questioned said that they were satisfied with the emphasis on the ethical practice in restaurants they have eaten in recently. Further to this, the United Nations have estimated that approximately one third of all food products grown and produced worldwide goes to waste. But what is actually being done to combat this?
Recently, a popular food waste app in Sweden launched itself in to the UK market. The innovative service gives restaurants the opportunity to sell their leftover food on the app for 50% of the RRP. The benefit for the restaurant is that they are making money from food that would normally go to waste, and the customer gets a delicious meal for half the price. Karma was founded by Hjalmar Ståhlberg Nordegren, Ludvig Berling, Mattis Larsson and Elsa Bernadotte in 2016. Since then, Karma has partnered with over 1,000 restaurants and grocery stores in its native Sweden, and has recently joined forces with its first 50 restaurants in London, including Michelin star restaurant, Aquavit.
According to the Waste and Resources Action Programme, food waste costs UK restaurants around £682 million every year, representing a massive loss of profit potential. The app's founders suggest that restaurants can increase their potential yearly revenue by £30,000. This is a huge incentive for every venue to boost their bottom line, even if the ethical arguments aren't enough.
A representative from leading menu board and catering equipment supplier, Smart Hospitality Supplies said: "Restaurants that are running very tight margins are at risk of losing their integrity by sourcing lower quality produce and ultimately providing a worse service for the customers. Not only can reducing waste be ethically sound, but it can give the businesses the breathing room they need to continue offering a quality service."
An entire business has been formed based entirely on this ideology. Since 2014, Skye Gyngell's Spring Restaurant has been serving three course set meals using only misshapen and left over food. The fact that one restaurant can survive completely using the food that most would throw away proves how much potential profit is being wasted. Before reaching shop shelves, a reported 40% of fruit and vegetables are discarded. This highlights a further opportunity for restaurants to strike up partnerships with their local shops to purchase the misshapen food from them at a low cost, a similar relationship to what Karma is harnessing between restaurants and consumers.
Having worked with aforementioned Smart Hospitality Supplies, Raymond Blanc OBE serves dishes made with vegetables grown in his kitchen's garden. The Belmond Le Manoir aux Quat'Saisons restaurant has been practicing sustainable dining for more than three decades. Blanc is also the president of the Sustainable Restaurant Association, who last weekend promoted the 'One Planet One Plate' campaign. Restaurants taking part highlighted at least one dish on their menu which has a sustainable footprint. Participants included Jamie's Italian, Wahaca, Ceviche and Le Bab.
Raymond Blanc said of the event: "By highlighting dishes that capture this ethos, One Planet Plate will enhance diners' experience and help them put their passion for good food into action," and stressed the importance of restaurants "helping people understand what sustainable food looks, smells and tastes like".