4 Tips To Avoid Food Waste At A Conference or Event

by | Apr 14, 2016 | Blog

Managing to avoid food waste at a conference or event is an important duty. Planning and implementing a food waste reduction programme is always a difficult task when you are planning a conference or event for a large number of people. Events, conferences and special occasions have a greater chance of food being wasted because it can be difficult to cater to exact numbers and tastes of so many different people. This guide is designed to help you with certain tips to avoid wasting food at a conference when you organise it.

Related Blog:  Meeting Management: How to Organise a Conference with Roles Defined

Plan Menu Wisely to avoid Food Waste at a Conference

Planning the menu forms an integral part of avoiding eventual wastage at the event you plan.
The menu should always be a priority and done proactively by you and your team. While planning, you should ideally think about upfront lessening and downstream deviation. Look for ideas that will avoid food waste upfront, while simultaneously diverting wastage to other channels. While planning a menu, take into consideration packaging, histories, service styles and guarantees. You must also accurately estimate the volume of food needed by taking number of attendees, timing of breaks and event type into consideration. As a rough rule of thumb we recommend to order food for about 50 – 70% of attendees. You can always increase for the following lunch or coffee break if the catering was scarce but normally you cannot decrease. Also make sure that you order individually for every coffee break or lunch and do not order global numbers. Ordering local food will not reduce waste, but it is definitely the better option not only in terms of environmental responsibility but also in offering a truer local experience for your attendees from abroad.

Measure, Plan And Enhance Food Services

Measure the quantity consumed and report the amount used during past conferences and events. This will give you thorough information about past consumption. Once you are aware of average consumption during each event held in the past, you’ll be in a better position to minimise food wastage for your current event. You should ideally also measure cost impact, organic waste and food donation options. Besides donating, you may also divert food wastage towards composting. You should ideally also manage a waste log, so that you can keep a track of what you are throwing away. This will help you calculate the value of your food loss. Maintaining this log will ensure that you make better decisions in the future. As a viable alternative, you could also pass on certain foods that are ideal for canning and pickling to companies that undertake this.

Be Smart With Your Service

Some smart service ideas will help you minimise food wastage at your next conference. For example, using smaller buffet bowls, avoiding plating in advance and removing needless garnishes are a few ways to help you minimise and avoid food wastage as much as possible. When serving snacks, choose items that are not individually packed, so that people can serve only what they need, instead of being forced to take a whole packet. This helps to eliminate the chances of wasted food, since certain things in a packet may appeal to some, while they end up wasting others. Another shrewd service idea is to partner with local farmers and companies to preserve surplus vegetables and fruits by bottling them up and giving them away as mementos to customers or event attendees. This way more people can make use of the food at different times.

Consider Partnering With Food Donation Programmes

While preventing wastage from the start is ideal, preventing wasted food from going into the landfill is vital, so be sure to follow a good food wastage reduction strategy. As part of your waste reduction strategy, you must consider food donation programmes. Several cities and countries allow second harvests to ensure that leftover food, which meets health guidelines can make it to those who are less fortunate. You should also make sure that food is saved in appropriate containers, so that they can be consumed later through food donation. Labelling of leftovers will help you keep track of all the food that has been wasted and how much has gone through the food donation channel.

Food should be properly managed when it comes to hosting events and conferences. All efforts should be made to first reduce the amount of food wastage. You could then explore alternative avenues of food donation, livestock feeding, food waste for industrial energy and compost creation. Thorough awareness of food waste is a must because this will lead to accountability and corporate social responsibility.

Related: The role of the Professional Conference Organiser (PCO)

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