A guide to food waste management solutions for restaurants

Technologies focused on tracking and cutting food waste can save your restaurant time, money, and the shame of tossing out food.
July 23, 2021, 05:12 PM UTC
A guide to food waste management solutions for restaurants

They might seem trendy, as businesses become more sustainable and even fight climate change (or at least, to project that image). But technology that monitors, analyzes, and prevents food waste is popular, especially among larger restaurant operations, because it directly affects the bottom line. For most restaurants, food will be the largest expenditure, or quite nearly. Wasting food is simply incompatible with profit. While some of the tech in this space focuses on the practices inside of individual restaurants, other tech helps you track the entire supply chain of ingredients from farm to truck to warehouse to kitchen. Still other solutions may use hardware to monitor the afterlife of food waste, to minimize a restaurant’s waste pick-ups, for instance — lowering costs for establishments or chains.

What are the benefits of food waste management solutions?

  • Saving on food costs: You’re probably spending in the neighborhood of 30 percent of your budget on food. And if you’re a typical restaurant, you could be losing as much as 10 percent of that due to waste. Quick math says that’s a fat stack of money that may be leaving your establishment via the Dumpster.
  • Saving on labor costs: Every pound of food you have to throw out is food that needs to be replaced — ordered, tracked, unloaded, stored, and possibly prepped. All of that lost time, as much as the food itself, is lost money.
  • Save on waste pickup: If you don’t throw something out, you don’t need to pay someone to haul it off. Simple.
  • Pattern finding: If there’s a mistake you keep making, you should find it and stop making it. A dedicated point for data intake and analysis may help you design better systems overall — perhaps including updates to your menu.
  • Morale and reputation: No one likes wasting food, least of all food people. Making the most of what you have will help your staff respect the entire operation, and hold their profession in higher esteem.

Who uses food waste management solutions?

If you have a professional kitchen that runs at any sort of scale, you should consider a waste management solution. Cafeterias, restaurant chains, catering services, and event venues are obvious candidates, for a dedicated waste tracker can allow a staff to easily track every spoiled tomato and every overcooked steak. Automated solutions may be of greatest help to the sorts of places that prepare buffets that are not always tracked once they’re made — hotels, casinos, cruises, and other sites where meals are prepared for people who don’t order them can be prone to throwing out food at the end of a shift. Any tech solution that helps food and beverage directors make smarter choices about what happens to food once it enters the kitchen will be a boon to those larger-scale operations.

Why use food waste management solutions?

The monitoring, training programs, and in some instances artificial intelligence that food waste management solutions make available to you will help support a goal — to reduce waste — that too often is left up to individual staffers to implement. Across larger operations in particular, the great benefit of food waste management solutions may simply be the creation and collation of actionable data. By seeing what you’re wasting and what you’re selling, you can make better decisions around every aspect of your operation: buying, staffing, menu creation. Virtually every facet of the restaurant industry touches food in some fashion. To know more about what happens to that food once it enters the building is to know more about your entire enterprise.

[Photo by Naim Benjelloun from Pexels]