Fast food franchises recently have been at the epicenter of a viral food waste trend on the social media platform, TikTok.
Videos showed fast food workers throwing away trays full of food items, from chicken nuggets to donuts. Many users expressed outrage at the amount of food waste.
With all of these videos exposing food waste going around, it can be daunting for franchisors, restaurant owners, managers and even employees.
Scandals like these can shape how consumers view brands, but could there be an upside?
As Megan McSherry, a full time sustainability content creator, influencer and educator who focuses on low waste living put it, “Food waste doesn’t need to be an issue, it can be an opportunity.”
Consumers across industries have spoken: they are willing to pay more for sustainability. A study conducted in 2021 by the pricing consultancy Simon-Kucher & Partners found that 34% of the US population is willing to pay a premium for sustainable products or services. This is especially true when it comes to younger generations.
As Gen Zs’ and Millennials' purchasing power increases, companies that don’t incorporate sustainability into their business models will miss out.
Changing the Narrative
Social media may have caused the problem, but it can also be the solution.
Creating and posting content of sustainability influencers or employees can showcase the ways your business uses food scraps – from donating to repurposing to sending employees home with extra food. Some TikTok influencers have already found outside the box ways to repurpose food scraps.
An effective social media campaign highlighting a business’ efforts to cut food waste will likely receive a high amount of engagement and draw wanted – as opposed to unwanted – attention.
Options exist for businesses to cut food waste and steer clear of the viral TikTok food waste trend.
McSherry, who focuses on low waste living, realizes that sustainability is not about getting to zero, but about taking steps towards cutting waste.
“It's less intimidating that way,” she said.