Fighting food waste - five tips to reduce the amount you throw away

25 April, 2024

Did you know, a third of all food produced globally is thrown away?

As we reach the end of Earth Month (April 2024), we wanted to highlight the challenge of food waste within the foodservice industry and the impact that this can have on the environment, as well as how it can affect operational efficiency and profitability...

The UK hospitality and food service sector generates an estimated 1M tonnes of food waste each year and as a country, we waste 9.5M tonnes in total, with an estimated value of £14 billion. The UK produces the largest amount of food waste in Europe!

In addition to hospitality food waste, retailers and food manufacturers also contribute significantly to food waste, with surplus or unsold food products being disposed of at various stages of the supply chain.

Our Development Chef, Andy Chan and the Regency culinary solutions team supports operators with menu development and engineering to increase sales and profitability, but they also work with our members to implement food waste management strategies.

We asked Andy to share his five top tips on how to reduce food waste:

1. Monitor your waste

      The first step in tackling the food waste challenge is to understand and monitor where and why the waste is generated.

      Auditing leads to food waste prevention – the most effective food waste strategy is to prevent, minimise or avoid waste in the first place.

      A full audit allows businesses to establish baselines and collect information that can help identify areas in which they can make improvements.

      2. Smarter purchasing

      Accurately forecast demand using historical sales data, customer feedback and seasonal availability and adjust your ordering quantities to avoid over-ordering.

      Ensure effective stock management using the 'first-in, first-out' method when storing food, placing newer stock to the back to ensure that older items are used first, and check use-by dates daily.

      Conduct regular inventory audits to identify surplus or underutilised ingredients and prioritise their use before they expire.

      3. Menu creativity and engineering

      Aim to get as much as possible out of each ingredient as possible; for example use vegetable trimmings, meat scraps and other kitchen leftovers creatively to minimise waste. Repurpose trimmings in stocks, sauces and soups, or incorporate them into daily specials and staff meals, turn stale bread into croutons and over-ripe fruits can be used in smoothies or desserts.

      Re-use the same ingredients across multiple dishes, adding a creative twist to entice customers and standardise portion sizes and ensure all staff members portion ingredients accurately and use measuring tools to maintain consistency.

      4. Staff training

      Educate kitchen staff about the environmental and financial impact of food waste and provide training on best practices for inventory management, portion control and food preparation.  It’s great to involve all staff members in the process and encourage them to contribute ideas for waste reduction.

      5. Customer education

      Educate customers about your business’s commitment to reducing food waste and encourage customers to support your efforts by ordering responsibly and taking left-overs home. Consumers resonate with commitments to sustainability – you can allow your customers to get involved too by offering incentives such as loyalty rewards for customers who bring their own coffee cups or containers for take-away food.

      Final word

      At Regency, we’re committed to supporting our members to significantly reduce food waste, lower operating costs and contribute to a more sustainable food system.

      Andy and his team can provide a complete food waste audit and action plan that can be quickly and easily implemented to achieve immediate results. Plus, we can help advise on systems and technology to assist with these processes, including our own purchasing and menu management software – now being used by hundreds of our members.

      For more information or for an exploratory chat with Andy, please get in touch.

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