Despite a tough South African (SA) economic climate, consumers are demanding broader menus, wider
selections and faster food. With the sudden surge in the SA quick service industry, efficient supply
chain management is pivotal for a sustainable food system. Recent estimates suggest that between one
third to half of all food produced never reach the human stomach. In SA alone, annual food waste is
estimated at R61.5 billion (current exchange rate R14.39 = $1). With an average of 11 million people
(almost a quarter of the population) going to bed hungry every night, addressing food wastage in SA
has become a matter of great urgency. Unfortunately, information pertaining to food waste in SA tends
to be limited. This study aimed at alleviating the knowledge deficit regarding food waste in the quick
service restaurant (QSR) industry, focussing specifically on identifying critical areas of concern with
possible mitigating strategies. The methodology involved two phases: Phase one entailed a material
flow analysis that entailed a waste audit of a key QSR supply chain that documented practices and
managerial protocols, which could contribute towards unnecessary wastage. Phase two involved interviewing
QSR managers, which allowed identifying possible mitigating strategies. Results revealed
that production, distribution and packaging (and secondary packaging in particular) warrants attention.
However, in terms of human resources, findings also accentuated consumers’, managers’, and employees’
general awareness of food waste as worrisome.