Food waste and its potential impact on the economy and environment was the hot topic at a recent food industry round table meeting held in the North-East.

Representatives from food sector businesses from across the Northern Powerhouse region gathered together for the latest quarterly meeting of Foodies Unite, a free-to-join roundtable which brings together organisations, large and small, from across food manufacturing.

They were joined by Matthew Wilkinson, Sales and Marketing Director of Yorwaste, the largest waste management company in North Yorkshire and York and which provides over half a million business waste and trade waste collections.

Matthew explained the wide-ranging impact of food waste and the steps businesses could take to prevent and minimise all waste and where food products could be reused and recycled.

Members heard that 10.2 million tonnes of food are discarded as waste each year, the vast majority of that by the consumer. A staggering 74% of that waste came, he said, simply from people not writing a shopping list and over-buying for their needs.

While consumers want to be more environmentally-friendly in their buying and recycling habits, he said, there was a limit to how much additional expenditure they were prepared to make to achieve that – a dilemma for food sector businesses on how to make their products environmentally friendly, without an increased cost.

Helen Hood, Director of totrain and the Secretary of Foodies Unite, said: “As a group, Foodies Unite meets every quarter to discuss and debate the topics that matter to our members and which are going to impact, or are already having an impact, on their food sector businesses – we’ve already covered topics including Brexit, workforce development and emerging technologies.

“Members had said that the drive to be more environmentally friendly was extremely important to them and that they wanted to learn more about recycling and reducing waste across their organisations, while till delivering a great service to their customers and the end consumers.

“It was fantastic to welcome Matthew and get an overview of how other businesses are making progress in this area and where changes, small and large, can make a big difference.”

Foodies Unite is free to join and gives all those working in the food sector in the North a chance to gather together, discuss and learn more about the topics most relevant to the sector today, share best practice and come together with people from around the industry, with different perspectives and different experiences.