The issue of food waste is often ignored in the restaurant industry, even though it’s a huge financial burden. In fact, restaurants in the United States spend an annual total of $162 billion on costs related to food that gets wasted. That’s a lot of wasted food that could have been used to feed people instead of being thrown away.

Food Waste Management

Food waste and types of food waste

Primarily, there are two types of restaurant food waste:

  • Pre-Consumer Waste: A restaurant’s waste before reaching the guests comes under pre-consumer waste. It accounts for around 4-10% of food waste. 
  • Post-Consumer Waste: The waste produced after reaching your guests falls under post-consumer waste, including all the food thrown out. Most of the post-consumer waste left in the restaurant contributes to the larger share of food waste.

The first step toward how to reduce food waste in restaurants is understanding which type of waste contributes more and why. Following this, strategies can be designed to control restaurant food waste management.

Reasons for food wastage

There are a few key reasons for restaurant food waste:

  • Over-purchase and over-preparation of food: Food businesses tend to prepare (or purchase) much more food than required, and the excess food gets wasted. Waste is also generated when food items are not consumed before expiry. Food wastage is often caused by fluctuating customer demand and poor forecasting.
  • Stringent food safety regulations: There’s no room for mistakes when it comes to food safety regulations. If a food product doesn’t meet the requirements, it gets thrown away – even if the issue is small or out of the restaurant’s control.
  • Business constraints: Inadequate finances, improper management, and technical difficulties due to production, storage, infrastructure, systems, and climate can contribute to food waste significantly.

Five practical strategies to reduce food waste

The following are effective strategies for how to reduce food waste in restaurants:

  • Optimize inventory management

Running a small food business means you need to implement an efficient and effective inventory management system. This means – first, you need to keep a constant check on your daily supplies and order items in a timely manner; second, you should order timely deliveries to receive as and when required to avoid overstocking.

  • Proper food storage

Storing food correctly is essential for businesses – both in terms of following the proper procedures and having contingency plans for when things go wrong. Foods must be kept at the appropriate temperature and should be refrigerated or iced at specific intervals. But if accidents like blackouts or equipment failures occur, it’s important tal to create backup plans.

  • Portion control

Paying attention to how much food you’re servings is key to reducing waste. After all, the most common reason for throwing away food is that people simply make too much of it. All those uneaten side dishes like french fries and chips really add up!

  • Donate the leftovers

A simple way to help reduce food waste is by connecting with local charities and donation centers. This will not only allow you to give your extra food to those in need, but it also provides an opportunity for you to recycle some of your other excess inventory items. The best part about being able to donate your unused food is that you know it will go to a good cause

Benefits of restaurant waste management

Reducing food wastage can help bring down operational costs by up to a third. It’s also a major selling point for eco-minded consumers. Furthermore, donating leftover food to those in need is a great way to give back to the community.

By following these tips, you can reduce the amount of food waste in your restaurant and save money at the same time!

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