Businesses bore the brunt of people cancelling festive plans due to Omicron, and revenues weren’t the only casualty. The food waste generated by people staying away from pubs and restaurants, or cancelling office parties, was a serious problem.
Thankfully, companies have found ways around this, and it made me think. Surely, the same methods that helped to solve a short-term crisis can equally help businesses reduce food waste in the long term.
When Omicron hit, businesses were left with a lot of food on their hands as plans were cancelled left, right and centre. I heard of one company with 90kg of unwanted turkey!
Apps like Too Good to Go and Olio, which distribute surplus food to the public at a fraction of the cost, stepped up. In fact, a lot of consumers were able to ‘cash in’ on cheap, widely available, restaurant-quality food. That’s not to forget traditional means of getting rid of surplus stock. From giving food to charities to divvying it up among teams, the industry mucked in to minimise waste.
But food waste is not just for Christmas. Globally, 2.5 billion tonnes of wasted food are produced each year. This is clearly inefficient, but it’s also harmful to the environment – if food waste were a country, it would be the third-highest emitter of greenhouse gases after the US and China. And when so many people are short of food and relying on food banks, this level of waste seems totally unjustifiable.
So, if you’re a business leader looking for a new year’s resolution, how about this: Reduce food waste in your operations as much as you can. You don’t have to build your entire business around championing this issue like we did at Dash, but there are plenty of easy ways that you can make a difference.
You can make use of apps to connect to a wider network that needs surplus food and drink, or partner with a food waste charity like Feedback. City Harvest is an excellent food redistribution organisation whose London network supplies unsold stock to food banks, including our local soup kitchen, where our Dash team volunteers once a month.
Being there really opens your eyes to those who need it most. Why not give it a go in 2022?