Food wastage for pubs, bars and restaurants has been a growing issue for a number of years now and it is making headlines again. *According to waste management company WRAP, UK pubs are serving 11% of meals eaten outside of the home every year; that is the equivalent of 871 million meals. As a result, pubs alone produce 873,800 tonnes of waste across a 12-month period; but here is the scary bit – 173,000 tonnes of this is food waste.
So, as problems in this industry go, it is a big one. But how much of today’s food wastage is avoidable with the right forward planning and systems in place? Traditionally, the food industry is notorious for wasting food at service time, but even more importantly, they are failing to learn from their age-old mistakes and this is an ongoing cause for concern. If pubs and restaurants had the ability to review and consider the statistics in advance when planning their food orders, as well as during service and afterwards (looking at waste and leftovers) they would stand a better chance of reducing food waste and subsequent money down the drain.
Another problem for wastage lies within overstocking – this can actually be considerable in terms of monetary value and a tricky aspect to control. Under-stock and you’ll fail to deliver the service and quality you strive for, over-stock and you’ll inevitably waste food. Staying one step ahead on your inventory control on a daily basis is the only way to manage this effectively and with confidence. Thankfully the technology now exists whereby this process can be fully automated.
Interestingly the battle to control food wastage is often associated with sustainability and recycling initiatives, which all deal with the ‘after-event’ i.e. you’ve already wasted lots of food – what do you do next? While these are all important elements to consider, we should be tackling food wastage from the outset, at the point where we are placing the initial order – because the minute the delivery van arrives, the onus is on the business to maximize usage of that food. How much do we actually need to order? What stock do we have? If a recipe involves leftovers, how can we use those to create more dishes?
What to control?
Eliminating food wastage is ultimately about control. Control of spending (which saves you money) and control of stock and new orders (which reduces the potential for wastage). This usually comes down to basic calculations, for instance if you waste food it will reduce your gross profit. It is also easy to overlook the fact that food is money so ensuring an accurate stock rotation is imperative.
If food is about to reach its expiry date, use it for a special recipe or offer and convert it into business sales rather than letting it go to waste. Of course, none of this stuff is rocket science but if you’re trained as a chef, you don’t automatically think like a manager, just as if you’re a qualified accountant you wouldn’t be expected to design a gourmet dinner menu. This is why technological intervention is the way forward because just as a chef needs the right tools to create the perfect dish, the business also needs the right tools and processes in place to help reduce food wastage from the outset.