Trends

Keep your costs down by minimising food waste

Key points
  • Food waste minimisation should be an important priority for your business right now as it will save you money   
  • Adopting a FIFO inventory management procedure and inspecting all food before delivery are two beneficial tactics
  • You should also train staff in waste reduction and make sure they understand correct food preparation techniques
  • There’s no need to throw away perfectly good leftover food when you can donate it to one of the many charities which accept food from restaurants and food outlets

IN THE IMMEDIATE POST-LOCKDOWN PERIOD, it’s imperative for most food businesses to keep a tight rein on costs. One way to reduce your costs is to minimise food waste – you might be surprised to find how much difference it can make to your bottom line.

This recent study of 114 restaurants across 12 countries found an average saving of $USD7 for every $USD1 invested in reducing kitchen food waste and that within one year the restaurants surveyed had reduced food waste by an average of 26 per cent.

Here are our top five suggestions as to how you can minimise your business’ food waste:

1. DON’T OVERSTOCK. As a general rule, only buy what you know you’ll use rather than stocking up on extra food whenever your supplier is offering a special deal. It’s harder than usual right now to anticipate customer demand as we emerge from lockdown, but this is still a valuable principle to bear in mind moving forward. You should also adopt a FIFO (First In, First Out) inventory management procedure for storing and utilising ingredients. This way older stock is always used first.

2. INSPECT ALL FOOD CAREFULLY BEFORE ACCEPTING DELIVERY. When food comes in from your supplier make sure you inspect it carefully and reject any food which shows visible signs of spoilage or damage. When chilled foods such as dairy products or cold meats are being delivered, check they have been delivered at a suitable temperature. This will protect against the risk of future spoilage.   

3. TRAIN STAFF IN WASTE REDUCTION. Your staff should be aware how much food ingredients cost and be trained to treat them as if they purchased them themselves. Making sure staff understand the correct food preparation techniques also reduces food waste.

4. AVOID OVER-PRODUCTION. Preparing large batches of food can save time and labour but if you end up with more food than you use, it’s false economy. By keeping track of your food waste, you’ll be more likely to move to cook-to-order preparation, which is likely to save you money over the longer term.

5.  DONATE LEFTOVERS TO CHARITY. There are many charities which accept food from restaurants and food retailers, and the past few months of lockdown have hit them hard. As your business begins to ramp back up, consider donating to organisations such as OzHarvest  which collect excess food from restaurants and deliver it to charities across the country for free.