The Staggering Reality of Restaurant Food Waste

FreshCheq - Food Waste

Restaurant food waste is a little discussed topic. An enormous amount of food is wasted or thrown out at restaurants all across the country every single day. Much of the food waste consists of that piece of steak you left on your plate because you were too full, or the last few bites of that huge serving of lasagna. It’s all going to be thrown out. But some of the food waste comes from the meal that was taken back because it wasn’t the correct order or the leftovers from the buffet line. This food is usually wasted and ends up in a landfill.

According to a report from NPR, for each meal that is created in a restaurant, a half a pound is thrown out as waste. This number includes what is left on a customer’s plate and what is wasted in the kitchen. Approximately 85% of the food that isn’t consumed in an American restaurant is discarded to landfills while only a small percentage is recycled or donated. The US is reported to have more than 42 million food insecure people and so this amount of food waste is a staggering concern.

How Can Restaurants Reduce Food Waste?

Changing the perception of food waste in the US is the overarching solution to reducing food waste. Fortunately, there are many more practical ways that restaurant owners can reduce food waste in their restaurants. Changing behaviors of restaurant kitchen staff by enabling better and smarter ways to use food product in the kitchen is one food waste reducing method.

For example, Blue Hill, a popular restaurant in New York actively and purposefully reduces food waste by creating meals from food that would have been discarded. Most other food waste is fed to the livestock on the Blue Hill’s farm.

Fostering relationships with local food banks or composting businesses are ways to ethically dispose of food waste. Food waste that is discarded through traditional means may end up rotting in alleys or overcrowding landfills.

Composting facilities are becoming increasingly common in the U.S. and most are eager to form relationships with local restaurants. Black Bear Composting is a wonderful example of a composting business making strides to partner with local restaurants and offering alternatives to landfills.

Related Article: 3 Processes to Reduce Restaurant Food Waste

Another proactive way that restaurant owners can quickly reduce food waste is through sales forecasting. Sales forecasting allows managers to control food waste and also results in better management of employee scheduling, ordering, and prepping. Proper forecasting requires more than a quick look at your 60 day sales average. Keeping holidays and promotions in mind can lead to varying sales forecasts and without proper planning, there could be missed opportunity or excessive food waste. Consider seasonal changes, holiday and community calendars, competitor activity, weather, and menu mix forecasts in addition to regular sales cycles. Logging food waste can help with forecasting and allow employees to better plan with accurate amounts of prepped food.

Using apps like FreshCheq to consistently monitor and manage food waste reveals trends to restaurant owners. Additionally, staff who are regularly logging food waste become more conscious of the waste and begin to reduce. FreshCheq food waste app assigns a dollar value to daily waste, allowing managers to quantify the waste in terms of lost profits. By measuring restaurant food waste, goals can be set and tasks can be identified to actively reduce unnecessary restaurant food waste.

Need More Inspiration?

Feeding the 5000 is a food waste reduction project that shines a light on the global food waste epidemic and champions delicious solutions for restaurants. To date Feedback has hosted over 40 Feeding the 5000 events around the world. Delicious communal feasts for 5000 people are made entirely from food that would otherwise have been wasted. A coalition of organizations, including hundreds of restaurants offer solutions to restaurant food waste and inspiring new local initiatives.

FreshCheq is eager to help your restaurant track and reduce food waste. Contact us for a quick demo.

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