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Food Wastage in Italian Tourism Sector

How a Single Consumer can Change the Travel Destination of Food


Migle Vaisnoraite

Redirected  flight, cancelled train, full bus can complicate one’s travel plans. However, while tourists manage to reach their intended destination by taking the next plane, missing the flight to one’s mouth means travelling straight to the rubbish bin for food. The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations estimates that every year, 1.3 billion tonnes of food ends up in the overloaded dumpsters instead of the 870 million empty stomachs in the world.

Part of the food wastage comes from the tourism industry, especially hospitality and food sectors. However, Daniela Campora who works with the project Avanzi Popolo, created to fight the food waste in tourism, claims that in Italy it is almost impossible to calculate the amount of food that will never be able to please the hungry tourist. The statistics are lacking because of the fragmented hospitality sector dominated by medium, small and even single business. Such situation complicates not only estimation of the food waste but also dealing with it.


Campora explains that the big hotel, restaurant and supermarket chains are more successful in managing the food excess because they control stock and inventory and have tools to do that. The law 166 issued in 2016 proposed a waste managing solutions for the big chains. What is more, they communicate better their policies to the guests.

“According to me the problem in the little ones is that many of them do not have inventory control. There is a fear of technological control. Many little restaurants do not have any application or software that could help them to control the food cost. <…> If I always make a plate using many supplies but people leave the food in the plate, there should be a communication between the staff and the chef to change the way they prepare the plate,” Campora said.

Throwing away still eatable food would hardly qualify as a reasonable idea. A world in which  food catering businesses throws it away would perfectly qualify as a world with a light form of insanity. However, this is the reality of small and medium hospitality enterprises in Italy. Bringing reason back on the table is more complicated than bringing a meal, therefore Campora suggests that the government should provide a better financial and strategic support.

“A little hotel is alone. It is difficult for a hotel owner to change the way they work, change is always difficult. More should be done from the government to help. It is not only a private issue. The tourism sector is growing faster in the world, but little hotels in Italy have many problems, have taxes. It is not so easy to be successful. The profit is not easy to gain. It is not that you only have to buy software. You have to change the way you do your work and the way your staff is doing the work. So it is also a problem of mentality and work vision,” Campora said.

The plate is the La La Land of the food industry. All foods dream of a successful career in someone’s stomach. Unfortunately, only two thirds of the world’s food makes to the Walk of the Digestive System, the rest is set for a walk to the nearest waste bin. However, it turns out that consumers and so the tourist have a significant judgement in deciding the food’s path.

FAO found out that in the industrial countries 40 % of the wasted food is lost during the stages of retail and consumption. On the other hand, in the developing countries the same percentage is lost during the stage of post-harvest and processing in the developing countries. Therefore, the responsible behaviour of the consumers is important in the industrial countries.

Campora also agrees that the role of the travellers is very important in the ecological tourism. The tourists consciously insisting on knowing how the hotel or restaurant is managing the waste could spread a virus of a better behaviour with the food and the pride to say “I do not waste anything, look at me, my plate is empty,” says Campora who also highlights the significance of the reviews.

“We are in the social media, social network. Usually you find reviews saying it was good or it was not good. It should be that tourists say ‘ok, it was good, the food was good but I noticed that they do not give me a doggy bag, they serve water in plastic bottles’. This could be a good review, a green review,” Campora said.  

Nevertheless, it seems that the future promises more more smart businesses and more foods living their digestive system dream. Less food gets wasted in Italy as a result of the multiple fairs and events on waste management, government initiatives such as the law 166. However, the responsible consumption and tourism can be some happy pizza’s ticket to success, to its initial destination.