Demand for uniformity in fruit and vegetables is causing an increase in food waste across the UK. WRAP research estimates that £3 billion worth of food will be wasted by the UK foodservice and hospitality sector this year, up from £2.5 billion in 2011*. BaxterStorey is working with a UK supplier to help eradicate its wasted asparagus crop and lead the way in the battle against food waste in the hospitality sector.
Watts Farm in Kent and Essex supplies supermarkets, foodservice providers, restaurants and farmers’ markets with around 70 different fruit and vegetable products. Ed Gray of Watts Farm, said: “Demand during the asparagus season is for grade one product that is uniform and perfectly straight, with no imperfections.”
Last year, Watts Farm produced 36 tonnes of perfectly good asparagus, but 15% of this did not meet the specification required and was graded as waste. Uneven asparagus is graded as class two or three, and much of this product is used as compost.
With so much waste, BaxterStorey has committed to purchasing class two and three asparagus from Watts Farm to use across many of its locations on a trial basis, with a view to rolling out across further sites.
Matt Hay, chef director at BaxterStorey, said: “Asparagus is an extremely versatile ingredient, celebrated by chefs throughout its short season. We have created a series of recipes to inspire our chef teams when using asparagus, proving it does not have to be class one to be delicious.”
The team will also take some of the farm’s asparagus trimmings, which are routinely wasted. These will be the basis of a range of fresh soups, stocks and sauces making this expensive seasonal ingredient more affordable for many businesses.
Matt continued: “We pride ourselves on using fresh, local and seasonal ingredients wherever possible. We hope offering an alternative to class one asparagus will help fight the war on food waste and encourage people to love all fruit and vegetables, no matter what their shape or size.”
* WRAP Overview of Waste in the UK Hospitality and Food Service Sector, November 2013