How to reduce food waste in your restaurant
Here are some tips to improve your restaurant’s sustainability by reducing food waste.
Reducing food waste is currently one of the biggest challenges faced by the restaurant industry. It has a huge impact across various facets, from an environmental and social point of view, but also from a business perspective. *Food waste costs $20 billion a year in Australia, while five million people experience food insecurity every year.
1. How to improve your restaurant’s sustainability
You can start your battle against food waste from an operational perspective: 63% of restaurants pay more attention to food waste.
First, it is essential to raise awareness amongst your team on the subject and show them that you can have a significant impact on the environment at an individual level.
You can train your staff on the best ways to manage your stock and preserve your raw materials, education is key to ensure that things are done right and over the long term.
Audit your restaurant’s food waste: make sure that your restaurant’s inventory is constantly monitored, and analyse the leftovers to draw up a waste record. This will be helpful to order accurately and optimise your stock purchases.
Maintaining a sustainable mindset in the kitchen is also crucial to reduce food waste. Based on what you analysed from leftovers, you can change your menu according to your diners’ preferences by replacing the products frequently left on plates with other ingredients, or even remove them entirely from your menu.
You can also be creative and make the most of leftovers and almost expired products: find ways to cook them, and/or prepare your staff meals, but keep in mind that safety and quality must be top priority!
Try your best to offer seasonal products, which, besides being tastier for your diners, will have a substantial positive impact on the environment. According to a study conducted by TheFork, more than 70% of respondents pay more attention to their food sourcing and quality (sustainable, organic food...) and 30% have changed their food provider during the lockdown for more sustainable ones.
Use local suppliers and try to get good products for a fair price. Restaurants are 52% more attentive to the origin of their products and 15% have already taken the plunge by changing suppliers for more eco-responsible options.
You can find more information on how to reduce your restaurant’s carbon footprint in this article.
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2. How to make your customers aware of your actions to help reduce food waste
Now that you have audited your practices in the kitchen, there are many good ways to communicate your restaurant’s sustainability with your diners, and you can benefit from it since flexitarian, vegan and vegetarian customers are an attractive target for restaurant managers.
Highlight dishes made with seasonal and locally sourced products: you can enhance them on the menu, thanks to delicious images or appetising descriptions, or add a “We recommend” or “Frequently ordered” call out. Diners are often attracted to the dishes promoted on chalkboards, because they understand that those are the specials of the day.
Offer your diners vegetarian or vegan options: offering a variety of dietary options i.e. Vegan, Vegetarian etc… will help your restaurant keep up to date with culinary trends, so think about new ideas of dishes and drinks that would be suitable.
You’ll find more ideas of dishes, drinks, decoration elements and communication tips in this article.
Consider the use of doggy bags in your restaurant. They are more popular in some countries than others, but the cultural habits have been slowly evolving towards a more responsible consumption of food. Avoid using plastic equipment, you can find appropriate doggy bags on the market made of recycled and recyclable paper or cardboard.
Don’t hesitate to communicate what you’re doing to reduce food waste at your restaurant. Food waste is a global issue, especially due to the consumption habits in developed countries, but it is not irreversible and every bit counts!
It’s a win-win for the planet, society, your diners and your restaurants. Are you ready to take the challenge and make your restaurant more sustainable?
*Internal analysis performed on TheFork customers in all countries from March 2020- May 2020