Restaurants are keeping an eye on waste generated by their businesses and patrons as sustainable food awareness reaches an all-time high. It’s no surprise that change is needed with studies showing“40% of the nation’s food supply is thrown away each year.” According to The Los Angeles Times, “this number has risen by 30% over the last three decades.”
Paying attention and changing some of your practices isn’t only good for social reasons, but it can also reduce your operating costs and impact your bottom line. Many restaurants reduce waste through smaller portion sizes or creating a menu with fresh ingredients to avoid having a surplus of multiple items, but there are also more inventive ways to conserve.
The Gobi Mongolian BBQ House in LA has now started charging an extra fee on all-you-can eat nights for customers who don’t finish their plates. This curbs the all-too-often situation where guests’ eyes are bigger than their stomachs. The new policy has received mixed feelings from patrons, but the restaurant understands the end goal.
Other restaurants are focusing on whole-animal dining practices where they incorporate every useable part of an animal. They create new dishes or spins on old ones allowing chefs to use their imaginations.
Evaluate your ingredients and consider ways to stretch an item into other uses. At Marzetti Foodservice, our chefs continue to find new uses for dressings, such as marinades, sauces and sandwich spreads, to help decrease waste in packaging and food by bringing in one item for many uses. Our precooked frozen pasta offers a unique solution to food waste – just remove the amount needed and keep the rest frozen.
The National Restaurant Association has partnered with the Food Waste Reduction Alliance to be part of the solution to food waste issues in the United States. Laura Abshire, the NRA liaison for the program, notes that in addition to decreasing operating costs, reducing food waste can generate additional revenue streams such as compost and qualifies some restaurants for tax credits if they participate in a food donation program.
Restaurants should review their practices because depending on where they are, decreasing their food waste may become a government regulation. Massachusetts has issued a new regulation on commercial food waste effective in October, which “requires businesses that dispose of at least one ton of organic material per week donate or ‘re-purpose’ any useable food.”
Sustainable food practices aren’t going away, so continuing to evaluate the way you conduct business to improve your community will, in turn, be beneficial to your profit margins.If you haven’t already initiated food waste reduction, you can start by checking out the EPA’s steps for Food Waste Recovery Hierarchy for Restaurants.