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5 ways to reduce product waste

Running an operation in food service consists of jumping over many hurdles on a day-to-day basis. Managing employees, ordering inventory, overseeing finances, creating happy customers and more. While operations managers are always concerned about the food they serve, they must also think about the food that goes wasted. America alone produces 70 billion pounds of food waste annually1. Seventy-two percent of diners care about how companies handle food waste, and 47% would be willing to spend more money at establishments that are actively trying to reduce food waste2. These statistics in mind, it appears that now, more than ever, it is imperative to find ways to reduce food waste.

First things first – to reduce food waste, there must be a food waste audit. The purpose of the audit is to see how much food your company is wasting and exactly where the waste is coming from. The traffic and the amount of food waste produced by the location must be taken into consideration.

To keep track of what food is going to waste, you must have food log systems in place. There are automated systems that can be used to increase efficiency and accuracy. With these systems, you can track how much product is being thrown out without the hassle of pencil and paper processes.

Once you know exactly where the food waste is coming from, you can then begin thinking of ways to improve.

Pre-consumer food waste is where you will find the most opportunity for positive change. There are many factors involved that are within your control, such as: ordering, storing and preparing the food.

Here are 5 ways that you can reduce pre-consumer food waste in your business.

1. Assess how you stock your inventory

Take into consideration if you have items that sit in storage for too long. Or, if you have too much of an item that never makes it out to the customer. You have to make sure that you are not ordering too much of a product that is constantly going to waste.

2. Store items properly

You should make sure that perishable items are being properly stored to maximize their shelf life. This is especially important if you notice a trend that ingredients are going to waste before you get the chance to use them.

3. Turn trash into treasure by repurposing

Find ways of using items that are old, but not spoiled in creative ways. One example could be, using vegetable scraps from food prep for your salad bar to make stock for tomorrow’s soup-of-the-day.

4. Be organized, be in control

Ensure that perishable items are being properly displayed when stored so that they can be used on time before spoiling. You can make sure of this by implementing a refrigerator rotation system to prevent spoilage and clearly labeling items with expiration dates

5. Share the wealth & donate to local charities

If there is excess food that is safe for consumption, but cannot be used for whatever reason, most local food banks or other charitable organizations, such as churches or soup kitchens, would happily accept donations. Volunteers for these organizations will often come to your establishment and pick up items, making it easy for you to do your part in helping the local community.

Now that you’re aware of just some of the many ways to reduce product loss, it is time to enforce some changes. Remember to schedule regular check-ins to track food waste. With this, you can identify trends and make any changes you find necessary.

Through technology, you can reduce food waste with automated systems that track how long something has been in storage and how much of it you have. These systems also track whether food is stored within the proper temperature range. These systems also automate the scheduling of temperature and inventory checks.. The best part is that all of this information is accessible right at your fingertips and allows you to focus your time and energy on other tasks.

Reducing food waste saves money, is good for business and the planet, and leaves you with a happy customer. To learn more about how digital solutions can help you reduce food waste in your organization and increase profitability, download our white paper now.

Sources: 

  1. Food Waste.” Unilever Food Solutions US, www.unileverfoodsolutions.us/chef-inspiration/sauce-inspiration/food-waste.html.
  2. WebstaurantStore. “Ways to Reduce Food Waste in Your Restaurant.” WebstaurantStore, WebstaurantStore, 25 Apr. 2019, www.webstaurantstore.com/article/140/how-to-reduce-waste-in-restaurants.html.