Morning Coffee and Wasted Food

Hi All

At a recent conference in London we had 550 delegates.

I think a maximum of 100 people got a morning coffee before the event kicked off for the day and the catering manager told em that only about 250 stayed in the venue for lunch.

We had a lot of wasted food, and we were paying £23 per person for the F&B. I wondered what others do to reduce the cost and waste, for example should I be telling the catering co that we just want provision for 150 coffees in the morning.

Do I offer delegates the chance to reduce their ticket price by having an un-catered ticket so if they intend to eat elsewhere the food isn’t wasted.

I’m sure someone with more experience will have a fix for this.



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Hi Jim,

I think your resolution is a good idea to give the cost option. At similar events, I cater to 50% of my attendees for morning coffee (as most arrive just in time), 70% for lunch as well as any other breaks.

Your demographic do not seem to be overly cost conscious if they’re happy to eat out even though they’ve paid for catering already. So there is a chance that some will pay full price and still end up getting the food and drink elsewhere. Therefore, perhaps do a hybrid where you give the option to pay less for no catering and then still cater to a % of those who have paid. Perhaps play it safe for your next one though, as a test - maybe 90%?


I have a tendency to cater for 10 to 20% less (subject to venue contract).

However, some venues are generous which allows for an increase of delegates on the day while other can be lighter which can make it a gamble should you have more delegates.

I have an upcoming event where will provide refreshments as an all day option - this can help as there is less wastage but can come at a premium! An alternative option, consider offering x basic refreshments FOC and offer delegates an opportunity to pay for a ‘better coffee’ direct onsite…

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Use that data to inform catering levels at the next event, with some level of contingency. If you do have leftovers, you can put it to good use by donating it: