General FAQ

What is the purpose of this programme?

Kai Keepers is a food waste pilot programme designed to help members reduce their food waste.

Why is it important to reduce my food waste?

Wasted food is costing our industry approximately $58 million a year, and 61% of the food wasted is avoidable.

Where does the advice from the programme come from?

Kai Keepers is supported by the Ministry for the Environment  – Manatū Mō Te Taiao and been developed by the Restaurant Association (RA) and Edge Impact. The programme brings together RA’s mission to be the bridge between good food and good business, and Edge Impact’s expertise in behaviour change and food waste reduction.

How will the pilot help to reduce food waste?

The pilot is designed to identify areas contributing to food waste and test different food waste reduction techniques (or interventions) in 120 cafes and restaurants.

How will we test the effectiveness of the food waste reduction techniques?

  • The programme will assign participants (120) into four groups (of 30). Each group will test a different food waste reduction intervention.
  • To determine the effectiveness of each intervention, participants in each group will be randomly assigned to a control (15) or test group (15).
    • The control group will only be asked to measure their food waste.
    • The test group will measure their food waste as well as testing the food waste intervention.
  • By splitting out pilot groups into control and test groups we aim to isolate and measure the effect of the intervention by comparing the results between the test and control groups.

What is a 'randomised control trial'?

Randomised controlled trials are widely used in medical and scientific research to establish causal relationships between interventions and outcomes. They provide a robust and rigorous method for evaluating the efficacy of interventions.

How will the pilot groups be selected?

Random assignment ensures that each participant has an equal chance of being in either the treatment or control group.

Will I be able to trial the intervention if I am in the test group?

While the test group will only measure their food waste during the intervention phase of the pilot, we also want to make sure you can action change during this programme. Therefore, if you are allocated to the control group (i.e., not given a food waste intervention to measure), you will receive the intervention material at the end of the 4-week period to enable you to implement these changes after the trial.

Who can participate in the programme?

The Kai Keepers pilot will feature a total of 120 cafés and restaurants in Auckland, Bay of Plenty, Hamilton and smaller townships such as Paeroa, Waihi, Ngatea, Katikati and/or Tirau.

What are the key phases of the programme?

  • The programme consists of two key phases. Phase 1, from February 2024 to April 2024, which involves a baseline assessment to measure food waste and help us to understand current behaviours.
  • Phase 2, from July 2024 to February 2025, which includes a food waste intervention pilot based on findings from Phase 1.

What will be required from my café and restaurant if I take part in the pilot?

As part of this programme, you will be signing up to participate in a randomised two-part trial, which will include:

Phase 1: Baseline assessment (February and April 2024)

  • 1-hour baseline training session at the beginning of February (delivered online)
  • 7-day food waste baseline assessment which includes:
    • Completing a pre-and-post programme survey (10 questions)
    • 7-day measurement of your food waste volumes using Smart Scales technology (supplied), and
    • Completing a 4 question survey at the end of each day (5-minutes)
    • *We are also looking for 12 volunteers to participation in a 45-min focus group (online) where we will share high-level findings (aggregated) and explore your experiences of these topics.

 Phase 2: Food Waste Intervention (July 2024 – Feb 2025)

  • 1-hour intervention training session at the end of June (delivered online)
  • A 4-week food waste intervention trial where we will supply smart scales and equipment needed to measure the effectiveness of different interventions in reducing food waste. This will include:
    • 4-week trial of 1 food waste reduction technique and measurement (test group only)
    • 4-week Measurement of your food waste volumes using smart scales technology (supplied) (control and test group), and
    • Completing a 4 question survey at the end of each day (5-minutes) (control and test group).

Where will the data from my participation be used and will my data be identified?

We won’t share any of your data with other pilot members and it will be deidentified when talking about the programme or presenting results (unless prior consent is received).

What is the duration of the programme?

This programme is planning to run from February 2024 – June 2025. After the pilot is complete, a nationwide programme will be developed to assist the hospitality industry to reduce their food waste.

How will the programme be rolled out?

  • The programme will be conducted across two key phases:
    • Phase 1: Baseline assessment (February – April 2024)
    • Phase 2: Food Waste Intervention (July 2024 – Feb 2025)

Why is the programme spread out across such a long period of time?

  • To account for data analysis, industry busy periods (Nov-Jan) and participant support during this programme we have split the programme into 4 smaller pilots.
  • Each pilot group will feature a total of 30 members and will be conducted one after each other.

    Is participation voluntary?

    • Yes, and participation can be removed at any time. If you need to stop your involvement in the pilot, give us a call on 09 638 8403 to discuss.

    How will my privacy be protected?

    • Identified insights and data will only be shared directly with each business.
    • Deidentified and aggregated data will be presented in reports/resources.

    Who will use the data collected from the programme?

    Participation data will be deidentified and shared with the Ministry for the Environment to contribute to their work on food waste reduction in New Zealand. There is also an option to share your deidentified data with Otago University to support their research on food waste, however this is at your discretion at sign-up.

    About the Baseline phase of the pilot

    What is a food waste baseline assessment and why is it important?

    A food waste baseline is the process of measuring and analysing the amount of food waste generated in a cafe or restaurant over a specific period. It helps establish a starting point for waste reduction efforts and identify areas for improvement.

    How do I conduct a food waste baseline assessment?

    • As part of this programme we will supply and help you set up scales to measure the weight of your organic food waste. We will also provide additional equipment to complement the scales including a bin.
    • You will need to ask staff to put all food waste (plate waste, preparation waste, spoilage) in the dedicated bin/s so it can be measured. Each day you will be required to separate food waste into the bins provided. Weigh the bins when full or at the end of each day on the scales provided. 
    • We will also send you a short food waste survey to complete pre-and-post baseline to help us understand your current practices and identify areas for food waste reduction.


    What is the duration of the baseline assessment?

    The baseline assessment will be conducted over a 7-day period.

    What happens if I only open on set days of the week?

    That’s okay, as part of our survey we will ask you to confirm the number of days you are open per week.

    We request that you simply weigh your food waste on the days that you are open to the public or preparing food when closed.

    Who should be involved in the assessment process?

    Involve all of your team, including your kitchen staff, waitstaff, and management as this ensures greater collaboration and a comprehensive understanding of waste generation at all stages.

    What types of food waste will be included in the assessment?

    All forms of food waste should be included in the assessment. This includes waste from spoilage, expired or unused ingredients, preparation waste and customer plate waste.

    What can I not put in the bin?

    • Non-organic materials should not be placed in the organic bin, including plastic bags, containers, glass jars, single-use coffee cups, metal cans, and cleaning materials such as bleach, soap, or disinfectant. Additionally, teabags are often not included in organic collection services and should not be included in the bins. These items should be disposed of according to your local waste management regulations.
    • For example, if condiments such as Mayonnaise have passed their expiration data, empty the contents in the bin provided and dispose of the container via the relevant waste stream (e.g. recycling bin).

    Are paper towels and serviettes accepted in the organic bin?

    While some organic collection services may accept paper towels and serviettes, most do not, therefore it is advised not to place these items in the bin provided.

    How can the data be used to reduce food waste?

    The data will be analysed to identify specific areas for improvement. This may include adjusting portion sizes, refining inventory management, or implementing training programmes for staff to minimise waste.

    What training or resources will I receive as part of this programme?

    We will be hosting a 1-hr training session on the baseline process at the start of February, where we will take you through the requirements and support mechanisms provided by the RA.

    When will the baseline take place?

    Participating businesses will be assigned a pilot group in February 2024.

    • Group 1 (Auckland participants) baseline will be conducted on 19 – 25 February 2024
    • Group 2 (Auckland participants) baseline will be conducted on 4 – 10 March 2024
    • Group 3 (Bay of Plenty & Waikato) baseline will be conducted on 18 – 24 March 2024
    • Group 4 (Bay of Plenty & Waikato) baseline will be conducted on 2 – 8 April 2024

    What are some common challenges in conducting a food waste baseline assessment?

    Challenges may include staff cooperation, and consistency. Overcoming these challenges requires clear communication, training, and commitment from all team members.

    What happens after the baseline?

    • Once all four baseline groups have been conducted, we will analyse and share the findings and identify four priority areas for food waste reduction and develop food waste interventions to be trialled in phase two – intervention.
    • We will also share your baseline with you so you can see the total amount of food waste generated during the 7-day period, and the approximate cost of this food waste.

    How can we communicate the results of the baseline assessment to staff and customers?

    • We suggest sharing the findings with staff to help foster a sense of ownership in food waste reduction ahead of the intervention phase starting in July 2024.

    About the Intervention phase of the pilot

    What happens in the intervention phase?

    In the intervention phase of the pilot each group will test a different food waste reduction intervention.

    • To determine the effectiveness of each intervention, participants in each group will be randomly assigned to a control (15) or test group (15).
      • The control group will only be asked to measure their food waste.
      • The test group will measure their food waste as well as testing the food waste intervention.