3 ways pro kitchens can reduce food waste

We all know that food waste is a pretty big deal. Worldwide, one third of all food produced is lost or wasted, costing us around one trillion dollars a year. Food waste is a substantial part of the waste produced by the hospitality sector - for some kitchens, it accounts for more than 50% of the total waste.

But it's not all doom and gloom! There are three main ways to reduce food waste in your busy kitchen. 

  • Technology to track waste
  • Systems to create precise forecasts
  • Platforms to sell surplus food

Technology to track waste

Reducing food waste comes with great opportunities for the hospitality and food service sector. It saves money, and helps the planet. Investing in the right technology is the most effective way to shine a light on food waste, prevent it, and reduce it.

For a long time, resource efficiency within the hospitality and food service industries was focused mostly on heating, electricity, and water solutions. In recent years, however, the industry is waking up to food waste. Some of the world's most renowned brands, such as AccorHotels, Compass Group, IKEA, and Costa Cruises, have set targets to reduce their food waste. 

With the introduction of digital tools, chefs are now able to automate many of the administrative tasks required to measure waste. The first step for any kitchen to capitalise on the opportunity food waste presents is to gather accurate data. This gives teams better visibility, as well as giving chefs more time to focus on what they love doing: cooking. 

Winnow was launched five years ago with a simple belief that food is too valuable to waste, and that in the hospitality sector food waste could be reduced by introducing digital tools to measure and manage waste.

Working with thousands of chefs from all over the world, Winnow’s latest report also shares strategies to cut food waste at key stages:

  • Labelling techniques to minimise spoilage.
  • Developing standard recipe banks for your teams to reduce cooking errors.
  • Preparing food in smaller batches over service to reduce overproduction.

Today Winnow operates in 30 countries, and is trusted by Compass Group, Accor Hotels and IKEA. But it's just the beginning: increasingly, food waste will become a bigger focus across hospitality, having an enormous impact on the environment. 

Systems to create precise forecasts

Using Winnow is a great way to understand your waste habits. But the next step is creating as accurate a forecast as possible.

When forecasting, it's important to look at:

  • Past sales
  • Over growth trends
  • Annual seasonality
  • Weather
  • Significant events - sports, holidays, festivals

Forecasting daily sales can be hard. It's important to break up  your past data, and compare similar data sets. For example, If you're forecasting for July 5th, a Thursday, you can’t simply look at July 5th last year. You need to look at the first Thursday in July for the past few years and then compare what the weather and events were on that day.

So, a good forecast will reveal your predicted demand - but how can you blend this forecast with your waste data to hone in even closer on waste prevention?

Easy! Let's say that Winnow showed you that last Thursday you had 100 customers and prepared 10kgs of steak, but only sold 9kgs of it - you had to throw out 1kg of steak.

Take this into account along  with your forecast: let's say it's 140 customers, then you should prepare 12.6kg of steak - 40% more than 9kgs. 

If you want to improve and automate your forecasting, a system called Tenzo can help. The AI used in the system has beaten in-house forecasting teams by 20-40% and reduced error by over 50% - saving you time and money!

Platforms to sell surplus food

Even the most well optimised kitchens will have a margin of error. Who can prepare for that rainstorm at lunch reducing customer footfall in the area? Equally, when the sun comes out and everyone wants your fresh salads, you don’t want to be caught short.

Too Good To Go is the world’s largest marketplace for surplus food, allowing your business to reach hungry customers eager to save the world - and your food. The app-based platform works by having a set amount of portions available daily for customers to pre-purchase and collect at the end of service. These numbers are easily adjustable to work with your supply and demand, and you can refund any orders you can’t fulfil.

The biggest benefit for businesses is the ability to recover sunk costs. Reports by WRAP suggest that it costs businesses 97p per plate of food wasted. As well as allowing you to recoup these costs, the app works as a marketing platform for you, bringing customers to your store who may have never tried your food before. Give them a great experience, and they’re more than likely to return as a full-paying customer when they’re next in the area.

Finally, in the age of increased consumer conscience, don’t you want to be a business that cares? Customers are more aware than ever about the costs of consumerism and are opening their eyes to bad business practice. A quick look on Twitter will show you all the eagle eyed consumers calling out local businesses leaving bags of wasted food by the bins. 

Stand out from the wasters, and do your bit for the world.

Anoushka Grover
Marketing Manager