Restaurants in America are creating between 22 and 33 billion pounds of food waste annually, according to FoodPrint. Not only is this bad for the environment, but it’s bad for your business’s profits too as food waste results in losses of up to $2 billion every year. With this in mind, it’s time to take action and reduce the amount of food waste that your food establishment produces.
Cut portion sizes
92% of U.S. restaurants serve portions that are considered ‘oversized’. Serving meals to customers that are too large and that they’re going to find difficult to finish is sure to lead to lots of food waste. Plus, you’ll also be fueling the obesity epidemic that’s sweeping the country, so it’s time to re-evaluate the size of the meals you serve up. There’s no need to worry about your customers being unimpressed with your smaller helpings, either, as one study found that one-third of diners chose to have less food when given the option.
Keep an eye on use-by dates
All food items have use-by dates on them that you must adhere to. When a delivery of stock arrives on your premises it can be tempting to store it all away as quickly as possible. However, this is a surefire way of increasing the amount of food waste that your business generates. Instead, you should take the time to go through your existing stock and sort everything into date order. Put the food with the longest use-by dates at the back of your refrigerators and store cupboards and the items with the shortest dates at the front so that your kitchen staff use up the items at risk of spoiling first.
Utilize food scraps
Food scraps are a part of all food businesses and you’re sure to have a mounting pile of fruit and vegetable peelings at the end of each day. But there’s no need to dispose of these scraps in the garbage as you can repurpose them and make more tasty dishes from them. Leftover bread and potato skins can be used to create miso, apple and plum skins can be added to smoothies, and carrot peelings make a great carrot soup. So the next time you’ve got a heap of food scraps in your kitchen, give your chef the task of getting creative with them.
Offer a subscription box
In 2018, New York Delicatessen Katz started selling themed subscription boxes to their customers. While Katz’s subscription box is designed to give customers a sense of luxury in their own home and doesn’t aim to reduce food waste, you can take inspiration from their idea. On a regular basis, you can put together boxes full of surplus stock and deliver them to your subscribed customers. The beauty of this is that they’ll get something different in each box and you’ll limit the amount of waste that your business disposes of. Subscription boxes are gaining popularity in the U.S., with 54% of online shoppers already signed up for such a service. There are already plenty of subscription boxes where the ingredients are delivered to your door. These often include recipe cards, too, so to give your recipients inspiration and reduce the likelihood of them throwing any food away, include some suggested meal ideas in the boxes you give out.
Limit seasonal foods
Across the country, different fruits and vegetables come into season at various times of the year. For example, avocados are generally in season between May and August and this is when they have the best shelf life. While avocados and similar fresh produce are usually available to purchase throughout the year, they’ll ripen and spoil quicker when they’re out of season. It’s, therefore, advisable to limit the number of seasonal foods you use in your dishes and avoid ordering large quantities of them when they’re not in season.
Recycle food waste
Just 15% of food waste is recycled or donated to good causes, meaning that a whopping 85% is disposed of. With an estimated 15 million households currently described as food insecure, you should consider the ways that your food waste could help these individuals. Donating food that’s still perfectly edible - such as day-old bread and misshapen fruit - to food banks and soup kitchens is a great way to reduce the amount of food waste that you send to landfills, and it will benefit your local community, too. Meanwhile, local farmers will happily take or even buy scraps for their livestock.
Use surplus stock in your specials
Every food business will end up with surplus stock at one time or another. Maybe a certain dish sold by the bucketload one month then suddenly your customers lost interest in it, or you over-ordered an item by mistake. Regardless of the reason for this surplus stock, there is a way to ensure that it’s used up. By using the ingredients in a dish designed especially for your specials board you’ll encourage your customers to order it. This is because items on specials boards create a sense of urgency among diners and are viewed as being more luxurious than dishes on your standard menu.
Store food correctly
Correct food storage is an essential practice that all food establishments must follow. Fresh and frozen products must be stored away as quickly as possible to prevent food from spoiling and having to be disposed of. It’s also important that the correct temperatures are maintained in refrigerators, freezers, and storerooms. Freezers should be kept at 0° F or lower, refrigerators must be between 32° and 40° F, and hot food storage must be at a minimum of 140° F. To ensure that these rules are followed and to prevent bacteria growth, working thermometers are a must and manual checks should be regularly carried out.
Food waste is a significant problem in the commercial food industry in America. But, there are plenty of things you can do to reduce the amount of food waste that your business generates to help the nationwide problem from worsening.
Author Bio: Amy Fletcher is a freelance writer and researcher with a keen interest in business management. In recent years she has written for various online magazines, journals, and blogs. When she's not writing she enjoys long walks with her daughter and two dogs.