Perishable Products

Fresh baked goods e.g. breads, cakes etc


If your stall business is unknowingly throwing away food waste, you could be wasting valuable money and time.

While no business has the intention of creating waste, the food retail sector alone sends approximately 460,000 tonnes of food waste to landfill per year.

In a food waste pilot at the 2016 Pyrmont Festival, 92% of stallholders said they produced ‘not that much’ food waste or ‘none at all’. And yet 4 stallholders who participated in a food waste audit at the festival produced almost 35kg of avoidable food waste (ie. edible food) over the 2 days. That’s almost 35kg of food paid for by the stallholders which was not sold to customers for profit!  In a second trial at the 2016 Surfing the Coldstream Festival in Yamba, 10kg of avoidable food waste (ie. edible food) was produced in one day which could have been sold to customers.

Stallholders reported that participating in the food waste initiatives helped them find the ‘hidden culprits’ of food waste in the stall operations.


We know as a stallholder preparing for an event you are pretty busy. That’s why we’ve prepped this simple 3 Step process to help you locate and take action to reduce food waste and save!

STEP 1: Locate your potential sources of hidden food waste

STEP 2: Identify potential tips/initiatives for each source

STEP 3: Prioritise your list of initiatives into a simple personalised Action Plan and get started to save!

STEP 1. Locate your potential sources of avoidable food waste

Hidden Culprits:

The hidden culprits of food waste can occur at all stages of the food lifecycle – before, during and after the event.

Click on a life cycle stage in the tabs above to start locating the typical hidden culprits for perishable goods vendors.

Some sources of food waste exist before you even get to you event.

Ask yourself these questions:

Product Designing: Do you have too many options for your target market?  Are options tailored to  your target market?

Estimating and ordering: Are you over-ordering for your events? Do errors occur in documentation or do you sometimes lose track of stock?

Storing: Do any ingredients spoil or lose freshness before they are used? Do you ever have cold chain failures or unexpected contamination?

Preparing: Do you have many offcuts when preparing ingredients? Do all your ingredients get used up before they are packaged or stored for transportation?

Cooking: Do you cook in batches? Do you ever burn or damage your product so that it can’t be sold?

Packaging: Do some products get damaged when you are packaging them?  Does packaging result in the creation of offcuts or excess?

Transporting: Do any ingredients get damaged or spoiled during transportation?

Event Planning: Do you consider demand forecasting (market attendance)? Do you take into account the weather and what other stalls will be present?

Most food waste identified by stallholders occurs during the event.

Ask yourself these questions:

Unpacking: Do ingredients ever get damaged or dropped when unpacking them at your stall?

Display: Do you prepare and display samples that are thrown out at the end of the day?

Even once the event is finished, there may still be sources of food waste.

Ask yourself these questions:

Surplus: Do you ever have product leftover that you can’t resell at another event?

Re-packing: Do you have equipment and materials to take home and reuse products?

Transporting: Does product ever get damaged, or experience cold chain failure, during transport home after the event?

Lack of market: Do you ever take home products that are thrown out because there is no upcoming event?

STEP 2. Understand potential solutions

In the busy life of a stallholder, these tips and solutions are designed to be included as part of your wider environmental commitments to customers and event organisers, or a starting point for embarking on a journey to becoming a waste wise stallholder.

Once you’ve located where you might have sources of food waste to save, click on the relevant areas below to see what you can do to start saving now!


Product designing

  • Conduct a waste audit and use data to identify opportunities for savings, review and revisit this data on an anniversary date
  • Chat with staff about types of food waste that can be avoided
  • Modify or remove products with lower sales than others ensure you do not offer too many or too broadly focused options
  • Challenge yourself or your staff to incorporate un-used parts of ingredients in existing products
  • Use the same ingredients in more than one product resulting in the use of fewer ingredients overall
  • Use local ingredients where possible  – local means seasonal, less miles for food to travel and less opportunity for damage or spoiling
  • Consider if ingredients in your products are prepared/ made in-house or ready-made and if they are helping to reduce avoidable food waste
  • Replace fresh with frozen or dried ingredients to minimise spoilage during transportation or storage
  • Monitor any ingredients approaching use by and best before dates as an opportunity for a special “new product of the day/week/month”

Estimating and ordering

  • Document stock and create an ordering routine – consider software or simple spreadsheet for trends and patterns in stock, assign a ‘purchasing manager’
  • Look back at patterns of sales – weekly or seasonal variations, peak and low stock to anticipate and plan for future quantities
  • Check if stock deliveries are frequent enough or too frequent to reduce over supply and minimise spoilage
  • Order precisely based on ingredients already in stock to avoid having too much
  • Avoid offcuts that could have been eaten, order ingredients to specification
  • Develop relationships with suppliers and begin the conversation about avoiding food waste – you might be surprised at what you learn or what you can teach
  • Save money by buying in bulk but be sure to check your storage facilities and stock use by dates
  • Order produce in season to find cheaper, better tasting produce that will spend less time travelling to you and therefore last longer
  • Link purchasing lists to menus to compare stock and sales
  • Check the use-by / best before dates of delivered stock and return any that are past their date


  • Create a shelf/storage plan and revisit frequently to ensure it reflects your menu- documentation can save you time and money in the long run
  • Group items in your storage area to correspond with purchasing list to minimise handling and the opportunity for damage
  • Ensure delivered food is stored quickly and appropriately to minimise damage or spoiling, especially fresh produce
  • Regularly check temperatures and seals on fridges and freezersa quick check each month could save you not only on waste bills, but also on energy bills
  • Ensure your storage area space is dry and clean
  • Review your shelving practices: avoid damage from stacking fragile food items on top of each other, assign bottom shelves for liquids and food that might spill
  • Ensure new stock is placed at the back of the fridge, freezer or storage area to avoid the chance for spoilage
  • Be sure to use stock approaching its use by date first
  • Store left-over ingredients in airtight containers to preserve and stop odours getting into other products and spoiling them
  • Vacuum-pack products to extend shelf life and/or reduce odour
  • Consider a frozen stock list, date labels on food and correct sealing to avoid ‘freezer burn’
  • Longer storage life can reduce spoilage that sometimes occurs with fresh produce
  • Consider if frozen, dried, bottled or tinned could be an alternative to fresh and still deliver quality to avoid spoilage


  • Avoid excess trimming of ingredients – use as much as you can of the ingredient e.g.  herbs
  • Repurpose trimmings – edible vegetable trimmings can make soups and stocks (slow cooking), baked into chips or seeds roasted
  • Invent opportunities for re-using excesses during preparation e.g. freeze excess dough, recover excess flour


  • Re-invent or re-cycle faulty batches: re-melt, re-form or re-shape
  • Reduce bulk recipe sizes or create smaller batches more regularly
  • Store your waste cooking oil separate for collection and reuse
  • Planning to avoid burned food from a faulty oven or spilled ingredients when staff rush can reduce disposal costs and maximise product delivered to your customer


  • Ensure your packaging optimises quality and freshness and minimises damage to the product


  • Consider whether longer trips or side-trips on the way to market/event are occurring and if you are targeting the closest market/event to you
  • Check suppliers and your own distribution equipment (refrigeration, heating etc.) for transporting products is not contributing avoidable food waste
  • Ensure the way you handle products does not cause damage – automation compared to manual handling may be a culprit (or vice versa)
  • Send back damaged goods received from suppliers so they are aware of avoidable food waste during delivery to you

Event Planning

  • Talk about food waste with the event organisers – there may be vendor agreements/clauses for waste , or awards to be won for environmental performance
  • Consider contacting the local waste collection service to obtain costs of waste disposal by weight -are food waste is heavy and transportation can be costly
  • Consider if the event will attract particular age groups, genders or families/ singles/ couples
  • Consider how holidays, parallel events, other stalls and weather at the event can help you plan quantities



  • Consider minimising samples that may be discarded at the end of the day, provide pictures of products rather than displaying food or ingredients
  • Use scales to measure products to ensure that the right amount is being unpacked and stored at the event
  • Adequate refrigeration and/or bain maries at the event can ensure products stay edible for long
  • Provide bins for separation of avoidable food waste – more than one bin could help you reuse the avoidable and save on waste bills



  • In the closing hours of the event, offer discounted products or products for free to avoid footing the bill for transportation and disposal
  • Choose the right storage area and containers on-site at the event
  • Provide feedback to event organisers after the event on avoidable food waste management and what they can do to help you in the future


  • Plan for adequate transportation methods (refrigeration, heating etc.) both before and after the event
  • Consider if transportation methods are causing damage to productsbeing returned to storage after event
  • When handling and storing food waste, follow food safety standards and consider health and safety e.g. lifting and carrying heavy containers


  • Give leftover food to family and staff
  • Donate to a food charity* (e.g. Foodbank, OzHarvest and SecondBite) – discuss with your Event Organiser
  • As a last resort:
    • compost avoidable food waste
    • generate energy through anaerobic digestion technologies (contact your local council for options)
    • donate end-use compost to gardening or community sustainability groups to grow more food for you

*Note – before you donate food to a charitable or not-for-profit organisation you or the Event Organiser should contact that organisation to find out what they can or cannot accept

STEP 3. Create an Action Plan for your list of initiatives

From the list of potential initiatives in Step 2, create a personalised and realistic list of actions that you can take. Complete a simple Action Plan. Work out who needs to take the action and when. Show this to your Event organiser.

Stallholder action plan