Operations – Reducing Food Waste

A 2004 study at the University of Arizona estimated that a total of 40-50% of food in the United States is wasted each year. The study also found food waste from fast food establishments accounted for 9.55% of total food used in the US, and full service restaurants 3.11%.  That may not seem concerning, but, when viewed in total pounds of food wasted by operation type the number might shock you. According to Green Restaurant Association an average restaurant can produce approximately 100,000 lbs of waste in a year.

Food is quickly becoming a precious commodity, and equally concerning is the amount of landfill space that food waste takes up.  This is not only a problem for the chain restaurants, but should be a concern for every establishment that stores and serves food.   There is a positive side to this predicament though; by reducing food waste, foodservice operations can save as much as 10% on food costs, which is a major priority for the foodservice industry considering its constant need to cut costs, and generate efficiency.  The ultimate goal: To control the amount of food that becomes waste in the first place.

There are several positive side effects to reducing waste.  First, reducing food waste will cut costs and increase profit. Its simple logic that if you use the greatest proportion of purchased food, the more servings you can produce the more sales you will make. Furthermore, the generation and disposal of waste carries its own costs.

Here are some simple ways to reduce food waste for any operation:

  • Check your deliveries carefully for rotten or damaged product.
  • Rotate perishable stock using back to front system: Putting oldest food in the front and newest food in the back will ensure use of the oldest product first, and reduces spoilage.
  • Check your daily preparation schedule to minimize over prepping and unnecessary waste.
  • Gain feedback from staff  of meals that are typically unfinished, and reduce portion size.
  • Try Frozen instead of fresh products. Properly wrapped frozen products will stay fresh longer without any freezer burn.

Resource efficiency and waste management should be a normal part of any foodservice business policy. To help reduce packaging waste, check with your distributors about packaging changes that might reduce waste, for example Neil Jones plastic pouch packed tomatoes.  Also check with your distributor for pouched packed Tuna, Olives, and Mushrooms.  This not only saves waste space, but it also eliminates the need for a can opener and gets rid of sharp exposed can lids. Also remember to recycle whenever possible.

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