Chenxu Zhao

Date of Award


Degree Type

Thesis - ECU Access Only

Degree Name

Master of Business by Research


School of Business and Law

First Advisor

Associate Professor Ferry Jie

Second Advisor

Dr Edmund Goh


As effect on the environment, society and economy have been recognised throughout past decades, the damage associated with food waste and loss behaviour is becoming more prevalent globally. How and the extent to which food supply chain sectors (i.e. those sectors more likely to generate food waste) voluntarily generate food waste comprise an area of concern among the public and scholars. In China, major problems around food waste have arisen due to third industry growth. Environmental sustainability and social responsibility are no longer international obligations, but instead a domestic demand for China. This study will enhance understanding of a significant food waste issue in arguably the world’s most vibrant hospitality industry.

This thesis contributes to the literature in several ways. First, this research was undertaken to uncover the types and extent of food waste across the food supply chain, namely agriculture, postharvest, processing, distribution, and consumption. This study focuses primarily on food wastage associated with food consumption in the hospitality industry. In previous studies, food wastage behaviour and prevention household food waste, were examined using the theory of planned behaviour; therefore, this theory was applied in the present study to examine customers’ behaviour towards food waste. This study identified four predictor variables based on the theory of planned behaviour derived from - respondent interviews: attitudes, subjective norms, perceived behavioural control (PBC), and past behaviour.

This study aimed to explore the reasons behind the generation of hospitality food waste during food preparation in China’s hotel restaurants industry. In addition, characteristics of individuals who voluntarily generated food waste in households and the hospitality industry were examined as revealed in prior studies. Thirty interviews were conducted to understand hotel employees’ behavioural beliefs (attitudes), normative beliefs (subjective norms), control beliefs (PBC), and past behaviour towards food waste.

Thirty respondents were selected from different tiers of hotel restaurants, and content-based interviews were conducted in 2018. The theory of planned behaviour was applied as a framework to reveal individuals’ rationale behind food wastage. To accomplish the aim of this study, descriptive statistics were used to determine the types, extent, and reasons behind food preparation waste.

Findings related to food wastage indicated that although kitchen employees occasionally generated unavoidable food preparation wastage due to kitchen standards and managers’ orders, food waste was also generated relatively easily for other reasons. Chinese hospitality restaurants were found to be more likely to overlook environmental sustainability. An analysis of food preparation wastage revealed that most predictor variables from the theory of planned behaviour could explain why food waste is generated in the hospitality industry. Findings suggested that employees’ rational attitudes, the moral perspective, and reuse and recycling applications were major reasons behind food wastage generated in the kitchen preparation stage. Furthermore, managers were found to be significant factors, whereas guests were potentially significant.

Results from interview analysis indicated that individual factors in food waste generation were slightly more significant than kitchen processing standards defined by kitchen managers. Interestingly, all respondents, especially older employees, indicated that emotion was a direct element of food wastage during kitchen preparation processing. If an employee could not control his or her negative emotions, then the amount of food waste generated increased. In addition, less professionalism, lack of daily purchase plan, heavy workload, poor ingredient quality, individuals’ ethical standards and incorrect processing methods were identifies as the most significant predictors of employees’ behaviour.

On the basis of the theory of planned behaviour, several individual factors that caused food waste in Chinese hospitality restaurant industry were analyzed. Predictor variables appeared to exert similar environmental and social influences across industries.

Available for download on Tuesday, August 27, 2024


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