Published : 16 March 2017
Food waste is a major issue in Australia, in terms of cost and the environment. And it is a problem faced by many, from domestic households to the hospitality industry.
A study conducted by Melbourne University last year concluded that around 40% of the stock purchased by hospitality businesses ends up in the bin.
And it is estimated that Australian households alone produce more than $8 billion of food waste every year.
Food Waste An Environmental Issue
Leaving aside the cost implications, this is a huge environmental problem. When food waste ends up in landfill, it attracts vermin, and produces toxic vapours and liquids.
This is, however, a problem that is being taken very seriously. Governments are working with food-related industries to try and reduce the amount of food we dump. So what can you do, to reduce waste in your hospitality business?
Create A Food Strategy
The first step is to create a waste food strategy within your business. And ensure all your staff adhere to it. At the very least this may necessitate some training. At worst, it may mean a change of personnel.
A key part of this strategy will be regular monitoring, and inventory taking. To effectively reduce food wastage in your organisation, you need to ask the right questions. How much food are you wasting? At what stage is it being wasted - ie preparation, service? Is there a pattern? And what is it costing?
Are you wasting food because you are preparing too much? Or is produce going off quicker because your storage and refrigeration is inadequate? Perhaps the quality is poor, which may mean finding new suppliers.
Put A Monitoring System In Place
All of these issues can be identified and rectified when you put a proper monitoring system in place. For example, poor quality deliveries can be immediately picked up and returned.
If you think refrigeration is the problem, arrange to have your appliances checked and serviced. In the long run, it is cheaper to install new equipment than continue to waste food.
If overproduction is an issue, ask yourself why. Have your customer numbers dropped off? If so, it might be your marketing strategy that needs attention.
Change Your Menu More Often
Changing your menu more frequently is a good way to manage food use and wastage. It enables you to buy smaller amounts, and use them quicker. Removing the least popular dishes will also help.
Using seasonal ingredients is a great option. Generally cheaper to buy, they will also keep your menu interesting and boost sales.
Are your portions too large? If food is regularly left on the plate, this could be the issue. Reducing portion size will reduce both cost and wastage.
Reduce, Re-use, Recycle
Instead of putting all waste food in the garbage, can you find an alternative use? For example, can you compost the waste for your own garden? Or offer it to a local gardening group.
At the end of the day, anything you can do to reduce food waste will benefit your pocket. Food management is key to the success of every hospitality business.