Restaurant food worth €125m gets thrown out each year
Restaurants are throwing away €125m worth of food every year, enough to cover Croke Park's pitch eight times over.
New research shows that eateries are discarding about 63,670 tonnes of food annually and much of it is the fault of customers whose eyes are bigger than their stomachs.
"Irish diners are responsible for most of the food wasted, with one-in-two admitting to regularly over-ordering and leaving food behind," the restaurant supplier Unilever Food Solutions said yesterday.
Launching its second World Menu Report, it said: "Eight out of 10 people of those questioned globally stated that they were concerned with not only the amount of food wasted every day in dining establishments but also the way in which this waste is disposed of."
With the co-operation of the Restaurant Association of Ireland (RAI) and Irish chefs, the research found that restaurants throw out an average of 4.5 tonnes of waste each year, at an estimated cost of €8,840.
"Portion sizing has been identified both by diners and chefs as a serious problem with 34pc of diners saying the reason they last left food behind them when eating out was because the portion was too big," said Unilever.
A quarter of Irish people eat out at least once a week, according to the research and half of diners say they would prefer the option of being able to omit something from their order, even if it costs the same.
However, nearly one third said that larger portions represent better value.
To highlight the issue, 'MasterChef' judge and chef Dylan McGrath yesterday launched his 'Great Irish Waste' menu, illustrating how to turn 'waste' food into quality meals.
He says attitudes need to change in the industry and among the public in order to bring about change.
"A lot of people in Ireland still love big portions and plates of food piled high; as a chef and restaurateur we need to strike a careful balance between portion sizes and waste," he said.
"Even though in a huge amount of restaurants the food comes back from customers' plates and goes in the bin, the majority of diners are not fully aware of the environmental and cost implications of that waste."
Information on Unilever Food Solutions' waste reduction toolkit, Wise Up on Waste, designed to help measure waste in kitchens, can be found at www.unileverfoodsolutions.ie.