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10 Tips to Reduce Food Waste in Your Business Now
When it comes to facts and figures, especially in the area of food waste, it can be difficult to get our heads around it. When we read that 40% of all food grown is wasted, it’s such a huge amount. How does that translate to how we live our lives? Well, if we think about your kitchen in your home, and let’s say you eat three meals a day, imagine throwing one of those meals in the bin daily. Imagine how much food waste you would have at the end of the week, the month or indeed the year. It’s frightful to think.
We’re passionate about reducing the food waste figure and contributing to sustainable food production in Ireland and abroad. So let’s look at some of the best environmental options you can take immediately to reduce food waste in your business.
1. Track what is being wasted.
It goes without saying that the simplest way to reduce food waste is not to produce it in the first place. But it’s happening and you need to know how much is being wasted each year. It’s the starting point. When you know this, you can do something about it. Get a system in place. We will always vote for a digital one.
2. Know why it’s being wasted.
Once you know what, you can figure out why. If you are tracking multiple sites, you can compare and see if there is more waste in one area than another, so you’ll know if there is something specific wrong with a given site e.g. over-preparation, portion over-sizing or spoiled food.
3. Know who is creating it.
Maybe you have multiple people staffing the same area, but if only one or some is responsible for measuring the waste, what are the others doing? Know who is doing what and who is contributing to the waste so you can tackle it.
4. Use transparent bags.
This simple change means you can physically see what is being wasted.
5. Monitor portion control.
Is there a lot of food coming back on plates in your restaurant? Or perhaps there is a commonality in the type that’s returning to the kitchen. Pay attention, and you can make the right changes.
6. Store products correctly.
Especially in the world of perishable goods, ensure you choose your storage right so nothing is going off before it should be.
7. Make sure your order is accurate.
When you know what’s going in and what’s going out, you’ll know what you need. When you bring accuracy to your ordering process and know what’s required at each site as well as shelf life, you contribute to less food waste. If your business has been closed due to Covid-19 restrictions, make sure to check all of your stock to ensure it’s still in date as well as the instructions on any open stock.
8. Use what you buy.
You might have a set menu, but perhaps a special that can use some ingredients that otherwise would go to waste is a great way to reduce waste and provide a culinary change for customers. It can also be donated or in some cases fed to animals.
9. Get your staff involved.
We believe in engaging your staff in tackling food waste. This might involve having a system that makes them active participants in measuring and managing it, or it could mean investing in some training to give them the skills they need to make positive changes. After all, it’s they who are working on the ground and see the day-to-day operations so are the knowledge base for great ideas.
10. Think long-term.
The digital age isn’t going anywhere, and it’s become a necessity for operations as we all adapt to this new norm. Considering the latest technologies is now a must for any business owner and regularly asking yourself what technologies can you employ to improve productivity and extend the shelf life of your products and reduce food waste is essential. This may require an investment you didn’t initially plan for or change how you model inventory but if you act long term in this way, you’ll benefit in the long run too by producing less waste and increasing your gross profit margin.
There are so many ways to reduce food waste in your business. These are only ten. We’d encourage all businesses to explore the areas where they can make a change as every step towards reducing waste is a step towards a cleaner, greener environment. It’s never too late for any business owner, whether you are a shop deli, catering or hospitality to take control of your food business in terms of understanding your site’s wastage, how you can reduce it and as a result, increase your gross profits. And now is the time to get started.