Food for thought: could you reduce food waste? 

Food waste is a topic no hospitality business can ignore, and various well-publicised initiatives to reduce waste, such as WRAP and Pret Charity Run, are driving the trend for more sustainable practices. However, with food waste costing the hospitality and food service sector nearly three billion pounds last year, there is still room for improvement.

Here are five things to help businesses build a culture of sustainability and cut back on food waste.

1. Determine where waste is generated and how much it is currently costing the business. Spoiled or out of date food, oversights in food preparation and mistakes in taking customer orders are just some of the factors contributing to waste, yet can often be hard for the management to keep track of.

2. Improve temperature monitoring. By finding an effective way to measure and control cold and hot stock, food waste can be significantly reduced. Issues with equipment, such as fridges and freezers, can also be avoided by installing temperature monitoring sensors that issue alerts when the temperature rises above the specified safe area.

3. Review stock management procedures: efficient stock management can give better control over all the fresh ingredients and reduce the amount of unused, eventually discarded food. Modern technologies, including digital checklists, can help enforce regular monitoring, so that action, such as creating a daily special or adding a temporary new side dish, can be taken before the expiry date has passed.

4. Engage employees to help monitor waste. Feedback from the serving staff can be valuable in identifying ingredients that are not customer favourites, enabling the kitchen staff to try out more cost-efficient alternatives.

5. Make customers part of the fight against waste. Offering customers the option to take the left-overs from their meals home can help strengthen the business’ reputation as a socially and environmentally conscious establishment and ensure that customers get to make the most of their dining experience.

Food waste management is a global challenge and a range of new technologies are emerging to help homes and businesses handle it more efficiently. With the right mix of technology, vigilance and careful planning, reducing waste is an achievable goal. It is an area worth investigating: in addition to the obvious benefit of improved profitability, it gives businesses a chance to engage better with customers by demonstrating a social conscience and commitment to green values.