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Food waste

Food waste management through profitability

Approaching food waste management in commercial kitchens is most often done through analyses of ingredients, recipes, portions or customer behavior. Looking at the topic from a profitability angle is a useful exercise. In addition to highlighting ways to reduce food waste, it can uncover opportunities for driving unexpected savings or business optimizations.

Tackling food waste is surprisingly complex. Managing it holistically requires a multi-pronged approach. Our blog series, to date, has looked at the topic from a recipe management angle and provided 5 KPIs for reducing food waste. In the current, pandemic-driven world, taking an alternative approach to food waste management via profitability is a timely exercise. In addition to cutting food waste, it highlights areas of business management where adjustments could be made to improve overall profitability.

Here are some suggested operational areas to start with, once again provided by Chef de Cuisine, Ville Parkkinen. He has decades of experience gained from various commercial kitchens. The following tips are extracted from one of Ville’s lectures about food waste management.

Ville Parkkinen, Chef de Cuisine, is the mastermind behind our tips for efficient food waste management.

1. Purchasing

Review the way you select suppliers and products. Food waste management extends more broadly than what ends up in the bin at your site or across an entire chain. For example, by selecting the right partners with strong sustainability goals that address production methods, packaging and products with longer shelf life, you can help drive your food waste and profitability goals  

Equip the purchasing team with real-time data on the rotation of food items in storage as well as trends gathered through sales. This translates to smart decisions, aimed at minimizing food waste and increasing profitability. Empower your purchasing team to make changes, based on valuable data, that can significantly impact your profitability and sustainability goals. For example, adjustment or removal of less popular dishes; reducing the number of ingredients on-hand; or replacing less sustainable ingredients with better options.

Chefstein®, by Fredman, is a digital kitchen management system which provides real-time data and trends to highlight actions that optimize food waste and profitability. Read more here.

2. Food waste management process

At its simplest, food waste management is about keeping track of what food is wasted; when, why and how. But how should it be done, and who should do it? The truth is, it’s everyone’s responsibility, and should be done together as a team. Using a digital tool rather than pen and paper, and creating a process that efficiently generates reliable data for the entire team and business, is eye-opening for assessing progress and trends. With data, you can drive your business with real knowledge, and create change that impacts your business directly, in the short and long term.  

Allowing the chef(s) to dedicate most of their time on their professional passion of cooking delicious food and ‘outsource’ food waste management to a dedicated digital solution is almost certainly the most profitable way or running a sustainable food service business.  

Chefstein® includes food waste management features. By using the wireless Chefstein® Smart Scale functionality it is possible to automate food waste tracking and keep up-to-date, in real-time, with what kind of food is wasted, where and how often. Read more here.

3. Do it from scratch or outsource?

Excelling as a food service or restaurant business is obviously about the food and the experiences you provide to your customers. Certain food items and recipes, created by you and prepared from scratch may be an important part of your success and reputation. However, taking a critical look at the ingredients, the time and the return related to some of your self-made elements can be eye-opening

Bespoke items may generate unnecessary food waste or they may be resource-intensive and not generate the desired return from customers. Could you find a high-quality alternative for your [examples here], or purchase some of the ingredients pre-prepared?  

Finding a supplier that could provide innovative solutions for pre-prepared food products could also mean more efficient food waste management. In other words, what would be food waste for you may end up being used elsewhere by a specialized industry player. The impact on long-term profitability could also be remarkable.

4. Why do you exist?

An existential question, for sure. The key realization behind thinking about the raison d’être of a food service business is to identify what is being offered and to whom. Or whether there is a need to focus the offering based on customer segments that bring most of the revenue and value to the business. Selling a bit of everything to everyone has never looked good below the line. Nor in the food waste bin. Here too, less is more.

Defining the central or distinctive theme, idea or differentiator and sticking to it is key. Equally importantly, the philosophy and the signature way of doing things should be shared by the entire team. Looking at trend reports, stats and results of your operations from the past gives valuable clues into what your customers value in your offering. A sharpened focus generates results in profitability and reduced food waste.