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  • Published on May 9, 2023


Costa Cruises is a subsidiary of Carnival Corporation operating 12 ships sailing itineraries in Europe, the Caribbean, and South America.


As part of a holistic sustainability strategy, Costa Cruises operates robust environmental and social initiatives including work to manage waste, reduce water consumption, maximize environmental ship performances through the introduction of technological innovations, and share value with the local communities in the destinations. Their 360° food program aims at cutting 35% of food waste by 2024, while involving guests and crew in awareness and upskilling actions.


Actions taken

The Costa food program was designed to scale solutions that radically changed consumption patterns to generate important social and cultural benefits. The project addresses food service inefficiencies holistically, including actions to review the preparation of dishes, manage food surpluses, and raise awareness and involvement of all stakeholders. Costa Cruises emphasizes the value of food along the entire value chain, from supply to consumption.


To achieve the target reduction in food waste the focus was on four key areas:

·         Participation of the crew


·         Engagement of cruise guests via targeted message campaigns


·         Coordination with local communities to receive donations of surplus food


·         Scaling zero waste systems and processes

A range of tools and approaches are used to deliver on the Costa food program ambition:

·         The University of Gastronomic Sciences of Pollenzo partnered to rethink food services processes with a long-term vision of gastronomic experience and the appreciation of food on board, including prioritizing the seasonal availability of produce.

·         Purchasing processes were revised to include ship ports of call, enabling onboarding of food during voyages and increasing the amount of locally procured food.

·         A partnership with Winnow was developed to analyze and quantify the amount of food wated during the preparation of meals on each ship in the Costa Cruise fleet. This system allows a continuous improvement approach to reduce overproduction, deterioration of food, and waste. Mapping food waste allows chefs to take action and make corrective changes where necessary. Awareness raising and culinary crew training were essential to maintain accurate use of these systems, especially in the context of high staff turnover rates.

·         A call to action, Taste Don’t Waste, was introduced fleetwide engaging passengers, guests, and crew members. These messages promote the benefits of healthy eating and encourage responsible behaviors and conscientious consumption.

·         When food waste cannot be avoided, Costa has identified innovative ways to donate food surplus. Via Italy’s Law No. 166 on food waste, it became possible to recover and donate high-quality surplus food, including ready-to-eat meals, that have been prepared but not served on cruise ships. This unprecedented work required new procedures for the preparation of food fit for offloading. These procedures were developed in close consultation with the Customs Office and local Border Control Public Health & Safety Agency. Starting in the port of Savona in 2017, this program has now scaled to cities in Italy and abroad to France, Spain, Guadeloupe, and Martinique with over 200,000 portions donated.

·         The program onboard Costa ships has been backed and accompanied by the Costa Crociere Foundation food support program which, since 2015 has distributed over 920.000 meals to local communities in 15 destinations. This brings the total amount of meals donated to people in need by Costa and its Foundation to over 1.1 million.


Outcomes/lessons learned

·         Via innovative purchasing systems, significant volumes of are procured locally

·         To date Costa has measured a 27% reduction food waste, in line with the goal of -35% by 2024.

·         In 7 years, Costa Cruises, together with its Foundation, distributed more than 1,100,000 portions to support community members in need


Next steps

Costa Cruises will maintain and further improve its food program, including Winnow-enabled measurement across the fleet, into the future for the purpose of continual improvement.

The case study has been provided by Costa Cruises in support of the Global Roadmap for Food Waste Reduction in the Tourism Sector demonstrating the value of taking action to prevent food waste.


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