As good as it is for everyone involved, food waste reduction isn't as altruistic as everyone makes it out to be.
Yes, sustainability is one of our top 2019 foodservice trends. Yes, reducing food waste is one method for also reducing greenhouse gas emissions and water consumption. And, of course, we want to do everything we can to get food into the hands of those who need it the most. But there's another reason foodservice operations across North America are focusing on food waste reduction.
The reality is, we waste roughly 1.3 billion tons of the world's food supply annually. This accounts for nearly $990 billion. The United States wastes $160 billion of that total, accounting for as much as 40 percent of our food.
In the United States, we waste roughly one-third of our food. Imagine if we threw a $20 bill out the window every time we banked out $60 from the ATM. That's essentially what is happening with our food supply, and as much as restaurants and foodservice operations want to do the right thing by humanity and the environment, throwing away money is an even bigger reason to reduce food waste.
According to the non-profit organization, ReFED, which is focused on the reduction of food waste in the United States, there's a huge payoff when operations invest in sustainable measures. In their 2016 Roadmap to Reduce U.S. Food Waste by 20 Percent, the detail a benefit-to-cost ratio that is staggering:
For every dollar invested in food waste reduction, the savings potential can be as much as eight dollars.
That's an incredible number. While operators know reducing food waste is a way to fight hunger, to help protect the environment, and even to attract important customer bases like Millennials and Gen Z who demand sustainable practices, the profit potential behind food waste reduction is enormous. Here are a few things to consider:
RECONSIDER YOUR SERVICE.
Smaller plate sizes, smaller serving sizes, and even trayless dining are an easy way to reduce food waste. According to ReFED, smaller plates can reduce food waste by as much as 17 percent. On the buffet line, trayless dining reduces food waste, as well. Lastly, reconsidering the menu can also have positive impacts when it comes to reducing food waste. Using the entire pig or serving both the beet and the beet greens are just a few examples. Allowing guests to customize their meals should also be a consideration
More accurate inventory management and production that are rooted in data can help save an operation thousands of dollars annually. According to ReFED, waste tracking and analytics can have the biggest business impact, helping the restaurant industry increase profits by as much as $266 million per year. Using this data to better plan for ordering and production schedules can help prevent overproduction, which is a big contributor to food waste.
DONATE UNWANTED FOOD.
Yep, giving food to those in need is a good thing for obvious reasons. There can also be a financial benefit, as well. Donating unwanted food is a recovery-based way to reduce food waste that can also result in tax incentives in exchange for food donations.
Foodservice equipment can be part of food waste reduction plans as well.
There are many ways to help prevent food waste, and some solutions include equipment used to produce, store, and service foods. Schedule some time with an expert at Lakeside to see if we can help you eliminate food waste and increase profit potential.