the food tucked into in Kilner jars filled with delicious goods as piccalilli, vegan chocolate mousse with a creamy tofu topping all was made from ingredients that would have otherwise been thrown away. Adam Handling launched Bean & Wheat in June to use surplus food from a kitchen of his nearby restaurant, The Frog E1. The Masterchef finalist wanted to help reduce around 199,000 tonnes of food waste produce each year by British restaurants, which he feels harms the environment but also “wastes money.”
Bean & Wheat’s dishes include salads made from unusual parts of vegetables, such as cauliflower stalks, pates made with off-cuts, and oils made with the tops of the herbs which are usually binned. Adam Handling reuses surplus food from the kitchen at his restaurant, the Frog E1. Mr Handling also makes his own compost from vegetable peelings, cold-pressed juices, misshapen fruit, and soap with coffee grounds. One of his priorities is to minimise food waste at restaurants to the point that we have hardly any,” he says. Bean & Wheat is one of a rising number of companies looking to tackle the issue of food waste, which sees a third of food produced for human consumption is lost or is wasted, according to UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation. That’s equivalent to 1.3 billion tonnes globally every year. The overproduction of food, rules restricting sale of discoloured or “wonky” produce, and aversion to leftovers, despite being perfectly fine to eat are all to blame. So campaigners say not only is such waste morally wrong, it also wastes water and worsens global warming as swelling landfills emit more greenhouse gasses.
Jenny Dawson Costa quit her job in the hedge fund industry in 2011 to launch Rubies in the Rubble, hoping to offer a practical solution to the problem. The British firm uses unwanted “ugly” fruit and veg from UK farms to make their condiments, such as pink onion, chilli relish, banana ketchup and piccalilli. Its products are available in 500 stockists, including Waitrose, Selfridges and independent stores. Ms Dawson says that since she started, the public has become more aware about the issue of food waste and more open to eating surplus food. “Many consumers used to be put off by it and were worried about the quality but I think that’s changing. Brands like ours are also showing it can be used in products that taste great,” she adds, noting that her firm has won several awards. Indeed, even major retailers are embracing the trend, with Tesco and Asda among those now stocking misshapen fruit and veg. More stories from BBC’s Business Brain series looking at interesting business topics from around the world.
Rubies in the Rubble’s products are sold in Waitrose and Selfridges. Others are taking a different approach to tackling problem, such as Danish tech company Too Good To Go. It is one of a number of new apps that allow customers to buy unsold food from the local restaurants, cafes and bakeries for knockdown prices. The firm works with more than 6,000 food businesses including Yo! Sushi and Exmouth Coffee Company, and operates in six countries including UK, Sweden and Germany. Co-founder Chris Wilson says it saved two million meals from the bin since its launch in June 2016, however the firm still has to fight against negative perceptions around surplus food. “Whilst there’s been a shift in the mentality of people, most people are sceptical vast majority of the UK still looks upon food waste as being scraps from people’s plates. With us it’s not that at all.”Jamie Crummie and Chris Wilson co-founded Too good to go. Trish Caddy, food industry analyst at Mintel believes though surplus food continues to be stigmatised. “Consumers demand that companies address food waste but currently do not translate it to own behaviour remains to be seen if trend goes mainstream soon.She points to a Mintel survey, which found that 77% of those who eat out or buy takeaways agree restaurants should be more committed to reducing food waste, but only 17% are interested in eating dishes made from food was due to be thrown away. Of course, the hospitality industry will not be able tackle problem of food waste alone. So manufacturers, retailers, importantly households as the biggest producers of food waste must all play their part, says UK charity Waste & Resources Action Programme. Mr Handling says every little helps and there are plenty of ways food businesses can contribute. They can incorporate more ‘nose-to-tail’ cooking, send anything that can’t be cooked to be composted, or find another way to use off-cuts and by-products, or donate leftovers to charities as some restaurants and supermarkets do. “It’s about taking a second to think ‘have I absolutely exhausted all possibilities with this ingredient?’ before throwing it away.” Famine and child starvation can be stopped by food alert centres and a delivery system that makes use of good food away. Supermarkets can be also encouraged to reset sell by and use by dates as perfectly good food is thrown away because computers programmed reject sales if good foods. Yet constantly restock with similar good foods only to be thrown away but cost of production is affecting the environment. A win win situation is to help people understand how long it takes to grow food so not to easily throw away good food without second thought. Those who grew up in ration years know value of such quality good foods unavailable in the past now in superabundance taken for granted.