Businesses in the foodservice industry have a number of challenges that they face on a day-to-day basis. One of the biggest is with regards to the food they serve and the amount that gets thrown away. Not only are customers more concerned than ever about where the food comes from, but they also want value for money. This means that businesses have to find the right suppliers, ensure the food is stored correctly, and that they offer the best value to the customer. This includes using all of the ingredients and minimising any waste.
The issue of food waste is something that has been a major problem globally for many years and companies need to try and keep this waste to the absolute minimum. So, how can foodservice businesses tackle food waste?
Humans are not hugely effective at dealing with the food they produce and this often leads to much of it being wasted. Approximately one-third of the food produced globally that is intended for human consumption is lost or wasted. Unfortunately, this waste is unbalanced against many people in third world countries that don’t have enough food to eat. Also, there are a number of people in developed countries who live on the streets or are in food poverty.
Because of this, the United Nations (UN), developed the Sustainable Development Goal 12.3 that calls for the halving of global food waste in retail and consumer levels by 2030. It also includes the reduction of food losses in food production and supply chains. Many consumers are now concerned about food waste, so they are looking at how businesses are dealing with this issue.
Along with consumer pressure, there are other reasons why a business would be trying to reduce food waste. The cost of food is rising, particularly with specialty ingredients and styles, which means companies need to ensure they are not losing money on food that is wasted.
There are a number of measures that foodservice businesses can do to reduce their food waste. This not only includes how the food is supplied and stored but also when it is prepared and served to the customer.
Finding The Right Suppliers
Some issues can be dealt with by using the right suppliers for food and beverages. For example, there may be some products that only come in packs of a certain size. This could mean that some of them go out of date before they are used. By trying to find a supplier that can deliver smaller quantities more in line with your usage, you could reduce the amount of unnecessary waste.
When it comes to portion sizes, this can be a difficult area to get right. You want to offer your customers great value of money, however, you don’t want to have portions so large that there is an excessive waste. Though waste cannot be completely avoided, getting the balance right is important.
For example, if you offer a buffet service, then by only putting small amounts of food into the serving areas, you can ensure that most of it will be taken before it needs to be refreshed.
In the kitchen and storage areas, the labeling of food both cooked and uncooked is vital. These labels need to contain the contents, the date prepared and the use by date. This allows staff to clearly see what needs to be used first and what can be stored for a little longer.
Effective labeling will help with stock rotation which should follow the rule of First in First Out (FIFO). This ensures that no food is kept beyond its use-by date.
All of these measures are only effective if your staff is fully trained to understand and use them. Not only should they have the appropriate health and safety training as required by law, but they also need to know the procedures within the kitchen and be aware of what food waste means to the business.
Donating to Food Banks
In these unparalleled times where the hospitality industry has been forced to shut up shop to help stop the spread of the Corona Virus - Covid-19, many foodservice businesses have been faced with store rooms and commercial refrigeration loaded with stock and ingredients that simply won't get used. Whilst that with the longest shelf life may survive the lock down, there is plenty of fresh produce that either needs re-homing or throwing away. Rather than allowing good food to go to waste, businesses should consider donating such stock to food banks or other organisations that can get food to the vulnerable, those in need or the valiant NHS workers that are doing their utmost to care for the entire nation.
As well as these measures, there are also other ways that waste can be reduced, such as ensuring the equipment used in the kitchen is adequate for use.
Investing in the right equipment for your business is vital to reducing food waste. It doesn’t only relate to the type of equipment you buy, but also the way it is used and maintained.
When it comes to the type of commercial refrigeration you buy, there is no room for anything other than the best quality your budget will allow. There is a vast range of storage and catering fridges and freezers available on the market to make sure stock is stored safely and in optimum condition.
A major consideration has to be the capacity of the units. They need to be large enough to hold the required amount of stock you need while not being too large so that they become inefficient.
Along with capacity, the equipment needs to be properly maintained to ensure it has a long working life and offers the best value for money. To do this, you should put effective cleaning schedules in place and ensure they are carried out according to a set schedule.
All the vents on the refrigeration units need to be checked to ensure they are clean and free from dust and debris. The condensers also need to be checked to make sure they are working effectively.
Door seals can degrade over time and this can lead to ineffective cooling and temperature fluctuation. This can also have added consequences such as putting additional strain on the refrigeration system and compromise the safety of the food.
Daily temperature readings are essential as part of the health and safety guidelines. It also ensures that any problems with the refrigeration units are discovered as soon as possible.
As well as regular cleaning, the equipment needs to be serviced to maintain any warranty and to ensure the effectiveness of the units. Servicing usually takes place once a year but engineers can be called out anytime if there are any problems.
By trying to keep portion sizes to a reasonable level, choosing the right supplier, and purchasing the best refrigeration units, you can play your part in reducing food waste.