Food waste in food service industry is a topic no 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 across the globe. However, with food waste still costing the hospitality and food service sector nearly three billion pounds in 2020 in the UK alone, there is still room for improvement.
Below are five item leaders should put on their agenda to help their businesses build a culture of sustainability and cut back on food waste.
1. Determine where food waste is generated and how much it is currently costing your business
No battle has ever been won without a good plan. Before going on your food waste crusade, make sure you are equipped with data on food wastage in your organisation. Spoiled or out of date food, oversights in food preparation and mistakes in taking customer orders are just some of the factors contributing to waste, yet these can often be hard for the management to keep track of. If your company is not already tracking food waste costs, you can probably share some key data of food waste in the food service industry as a starting point and a reason to start measuring it internally.
2. Automating food temperature monitoring can reduce food waste in the food service industry globally
Fridge and freezer outages can cost up to tens of thousands of dollars to retailers… But asking your staff to go and check on assets three times a day can be about as harmful – more time in front of fridges mean less time in front of customers! Companies like Checkit equip their clients with a more effective way to measure and control cold and hot stock, so food waste can be significantly reduced. Issues with equipment, such as fridges and freezers, can be avoided by installing automated temperature monitoring sensors that issue alerts when the temperature rises above the specified safe area. Frontline workers can focus on customer experience whilst leaders can rest assured, operations are running smoothly.
3. Improve stock management with modern technologies like predictive cooking
Efficient stock management can give better control over all the fresh ingredients and reduce the amount of unused, eventually discarded food. Technology partners can help you implement or accelerate your zero-food waste strategy. Checkit for example helps customers identify trends and consumption patterns per shop, so your team on the ground can implement predictive cooking easily. This translates into more sales and less food waste, for an exponential impact on margins.
4. Deskless workers should also have a say in reducing food waste in the food service industry
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. However, feedback is sometimes difficult to grasp, especially in jobs with naturally high turnover. Leave an open door for your deskless workers to bring up their ideas and combine it with technologies that will simplify and speed up this feedback loop. Encouraging and facilitating honest conversations between your store and headquarters will also help end dark operations, a practice of the past that still hinders a lot of businesses today.
5. Make customers actors of the fight against food waste
Reducing food waste in the food service industry is a team sport, and your clients definitely have a role to play in there too. 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. Some businesses like Itsu go one step further by discounting unsold fresh food at the end of the day to reduce food waste and boost sales.
Food waste in the food service industry is a global challenge that is very much top of mind for many customers today. A range of new technologies are emerging to help businesses but also households handle it more efficiently. With the right mix of technology, vigilance and careful planning, reducing food 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 which are embraced more and more by the new generation.