Australia (University of Adelaide) Project fights food waste in tourism

A new research project that focusses on how to reduce food waste in the tourism industry could contribute to lasting environmentally-friendly change.

In the three-year project University of Adelaide researchers will work alongside industry stakeholders with funding from the Fight Food Waste Cooperative Research Centre (CRC) to understand current challenges and opportunities to reduce food waste across the sector.

“In 2021, the National Food Waste Strategy Feasibility Study reported that food waste from hospitality consumption, of which tourism is a subset, totalled approximately 1,217,000 tonnes per annum,” said the University of Adelaide’s Dr Tracey Dodd, Adelaide Business School, who is leading the study.

“Other research shows that hotels, cruises, convention centres, and other tourism operators waste up to 20 per cent of all food purchased. This is due to overproduction, cooking mistakes, damaged products, and leftovers. This presents opportunities for improvements and savings.”

The team will gather interview data from a national sample of hotels, cruises, convention centres, and other tourism operators. Interviews will seek to understand existing practices, processes and challenges in the industry, including underlying organisational culture and norms that inform practices.

Associate Professor Duygu Yengin from the School of Economics and Public Policy is part of the team.

“The tourism sector has a competitive advantage in addressing food waste as the sector constitutes 10 per cent of the world’s GDP and employs 10 per cent of the global workforce,” she said.

“We have a rare opportunity to reassess and consider food waste measures as a way to improve profitability, as well as align the sector’s food services toward a more socially inclusive and environmentally sustainable future.”

Information collected will be used to identify opportunities for improvement, including new models, structures or practices to support more responsible food management in the future.

Ian Horne is CEO/General Manager at Australian Hotels Association – SA Branch.

“It’s important for the hotel and hospitality industry to consider more sustainable practices. Venues that do so will have a competitive edge,” he said.

“We are delighted to see the Adelaide Business School is investigating this topic and we look forward to seeing how the outcome of the research can help hotels across the state, including both small and large operators.”

The Fight Food Waste CRC, whose activities are supported by the Federal Department of Industry, Sciences and Resources, is contributing to the project by providing a top-up scholarship for a PhD student to join the team.

“Our goal is to halve food waste in Australia by 2030,” Fight Food Waste CEO Dr Steven Lapidge said.

“The Fight Food Waste CRC was established to facilitate collaboration between industry and research that leads to meaningful solutions which will advance us towards that goal.”