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World Association of Chef Societies
Food & Hunger

Chefs From Across the World Join Together to Fight Food Waste

Why Global Citizen Should Care
Food waste and food loss affect millions of people across the world. Not only is it a major contributor to hunger, but the issue similarly affects the environment due to food waste ending up in landfills and producing greenhouse gas emissions. You can take action on Global Goal 2, Zero Hunger, and other Global Goals here.

Tossing food away because it is uneaten, untasty, or spoiled is a common occurrence. In fact, it's so common that roughly one-third of all food produced each year is squandered or rotten before it can be consumed.

Reversing this trend would preserve enough food to adequately feed 2 billion people, considerably more than the one in nine who currently go hungry.

But food loss (food that is spoiled before it reaches the retail stage) and food waste (food that is not eaten and discarded) are not just major contributors to hunger, but also significant providers to the world's greenhouse gas emissions, as tonnes of rotten food sprawl across landfills around the globe.

Take Action: Tweet Starbucks asking them to donate 100% of unused food to charity in the UK

This month, the World Association of Chefs Societies (WorldChefs) assembled in Kuala Lumpur to shine a light on the relationship between food waste, environmental decay, and hunger against those in the culinary industry.

Chefs from across the globe gathered at the congress to launch various Feed the Planet initiatives — programs aimed at educating those in the food service industry about how best to reduce their food waste.

“Feed the Planet initiatives are diverse and cover the globe. What they share is the unwavering mission to inspire better food consumption and cooking habits among communities and professionals, and to help people in need through awareness, advocacy, food poverty relief, and education,” Feed the Planet announced in a statement.

Among the initiatives launched during the congress was the Food Waste Challenge, a three-month activity that urges chefs worldwide to begin measuring and revealing the amount of discarded food their kitchens produce. Chefs are then encouraged to make a commitment to reduce it.

"Those of us in white coats, we cook a lot of food; we use a lot of energy; we use a lot of water; we make a lot of waste. So we have a responsibility to the larger society, to the planet, to make sure we're doing well in each of those categories,” chairman of Feed the Planet Chris Koetke told culinary students and members of the association during the congress. ”If you can improve your bottomline through looking at food waste and improve things on the planet, why wouldn't you?”

Various renowned chefs gave demonstrations throughout the four-day congress. Christopher Ekman, from Swedish not-for-profit restaurant ReTaste, told audiences that his restaurant serves seven-course meals twice a week that are predominantly sourced from leftover supermarket produce. To demonstrate, he cooked a gourmet pasta dish made from stale leftover bread and presented it to audiences during his on-site presentation.

Ruth Osborne, the cofounder of food sustainability consultancy Retired Hen, told audiences the key to making gourmet food from produce that would otherwise have been thrown out lies in creativity and imagination.

"You make incredible food out of premium products. And if you use your imagination, take those skills, you can also make incredible meals out of less than premium products. And teach people that actually, they're valuable and worth the enjoyment."

The WorldChefs Congress is the latest movement in a global trend to educate those in the food service industry on the positive enviromental, global and finanical impacts reducing food waste can have. A report entitled "The Business Case for Reducing Food Loss and Waste" released in June revealed there was now a "compelling business case" for those in the culinary industry to reduce food waste.

Released by food waste coalition Champions 12.3, the report reviewed 86 food service businesses across six countries and found businesses saved $6 for every $1 invested in food waste. Within one year, the restaurants had reduced food waste by 36% on average, with 64% having recouped their investment.  

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“Taking action across the food industry is vital if we are to halve global food waste by 2030,” Chair of Champions 12.3 Dave Lewis revealed, while further stating that successful reduction programs stem from engaging staff, reducing overproduction, and repurposing excess food.

“As chair of Champions 12.3, I am delighted to be able to share today’s report, which clearly shows that reducing food waste in the catering sector isn’t just the right thing to do, it also makes good business sense.”