A new study, the Food Waste Race, undertaken by Just Eat and environmental charity Hubbub and published ahead of Food Waste Action Week, has found that chips are the most wasted takeaway food. With 72% of the study’s participants saying they had leftover chips after eating their takeaway meals, Just Eat is launching a trial with a group of restaurant partners on its platform to give customers the option of a smaller chip portion size. From March, customers buying from a select number of Just Eat restaurants will be able to choose between a standard and ‘waste less’ portion to help them reduce food waste.
A survey of takeaway customers which took place at the beginning of the Food Waste Race pilot found that over half (53%) of participants said that they had leftovers from their takeaways due to portion sizes being too big. The top two reasons given for leftovers going to waste were because customers thought they were unsafe to eat later, or didn’t like the thought of eating leftover takeaway food. A series of activities and challenges sought to show participants how they could reduce food waste from their takeaways. These included giving participants tips on food safety and inspiration on how to make the most of their leftovers.
At the end of the pilot, 92% of participants said they were wasting less takeaway food, while 97% said they were likely to reduce takeaway waste in future. Participants were also more likely to store typically wasted foods like pizza, curry and chips in the fridge to eat later. And participants not only wasted less takeaway food, but 82% wasted less food from their grocery shopping too.
In addition to the ‘waste less’ chip portion trial, Just Eat is committing to the following actions following the Food Waste Race pilot:
- Just Eat will enable restaurants to easily display portion sizes and calories on its menus, in line with the menu calorie labeling regulations coming into force in England in April. While this will only be obligatory for larger restaurants under the rules, Just Eat will actively encourage restaurants of all sizes to add this information to their menus and support them to offer the right portion sizes.
- Just Eat will support every customer to store and safely reuse their leftovers by providing them with information and inspiration on the Just Eat app and website.
The Food Waste Race builds on previous research from Just Eat, carried out with the Sustainable Restaurant Association in 2019, which found that £1.8bn worth of takeaway food is thrown away every year in the UK alone. Of that, £376m worth of food waste occurs in takeaway outlets while households account for £1.4bn.
Robin Clark, Senior Director of Global Partnerships, Sponsorships and Sustainability at Just Eat Takeaway.com, said: “Food waste is one of the greatest issues of our generation. Roughly a third of all food we produce in the world is wasted, which has a huge environmental and economic impact. If food wastage were a country, it would be the third largest emitter of greenhouse gasses in the world*. With 60,000 restaurants on the Just Eat platform in the UK, we know that we have a role to play to help reduce food waste.
“As part of the JET Appetite for Change plan, The Food Waste Race has brought to light how waste from takeaways can be reduced if people are able to order smaller portion sizes and feel more confident transforming their leftovers into new meals. We’re excited to be trialing our ‘waste less’ chip portions and want to make sure all our customers know how to store, reheat and reuse their leftovers safely so we can tackle food waste in the UK.”
Mark Breen, Senior Creative Partner at Hubbub, said: “Chipping away at food waste is one of the simplest ways that we can all do our bit for the environment and save money. The Food Waste Race showed that with the right inspiration and a little support, takeaway customers can eat more of the food they order. We look forward to seeing the impact of the plans Just Eat have announced today.”
Catherine David, Director of Collaboration and Change at WRAP said “With food prices rising and action urgently needed on the climate emergency, preventing food from going to waste is something we can all do to lessen the pressure on our pockets and the planet. £17 billion worth of food goes to waste in our homes and in the hospitality sector every year, so helping customers order the right portion for them, and giving simple advice on how to enjoy leftovers, could help to significantly reduce that. It’s great that Just Eat is helping its customers and restaurants and signposting Love Food Hate Waste and Guardians of Grub. And with Food Waste Action Week around the corner/in full flow, I urge more businesses to highlight that wasting food feeds climate change.”
Ambi Kumar, a participant in the pilot who lives in Birmingham with her housemates, said the Food Waste Race had helped her learn how to reheat takeaway leftovers which had previously often ended up in the bin. Ambi has used tips and inspiration from the pilot to be more creative with her leftovers, including transforming a takeaway lamb keema into a spaghetti bolognese.