In Victoria alone we throw out approximately $4 billion worth of food each year, of this a large component undoubtedly comes from the hospitality industry. Unfortunately at this stage In Australia we do not have accurate figures available for the cost and volumes of food waste produced in this industry. But if we use Britain as an example – around a quarter (23 percent) of all food purchased goes to waste.
The good news is researchers at RMIT have recently started a nationwide study that sees participating businesses measure their own food waste via an easy to use app. We hope to see some results in the near future. For more information on the study go to watchmywaste.com.au
While we may not know the exact numbers of what is being thrown away in cafes and restaurants, we do know there is a food waste problem – not only from an environmental point of view but also a business’s bottom line.
Here are some tips on how your establishment can reduce food waste and save you money.
1. Plan your menu carefully – Take the time to assess what meals have been popular (and not so) and at what times. It may be difficult to understand your supply and demand if you are a new establishment but gaining a good understanding your customer base is invaluable.
2. Make the most of seasonal produce – this keeps the menu interesting, is a more economical way of shopping and means if you do run low on something it’s easy to acquire more.
3. Avoid unnecessary food spoilage – Ensure you store your products properly and safely (according to food safety guidelines) and make sure your fridge/s and freezer/s are running at optimum temperatures.
4. Grow your own herbs – not only do you have what you need on tap but it’s also a good environmental selling point for the customers.
5. If you have the room consider putting in a compost system for food scraps.
6. Inspect all food orders upon arrival thoroughly – if something doesn’t look good or isn’t right, send it back straight away.
7. Encourage customers to take home leftovers – have (recyclable) left over containers available so customers can easily take home and enjoy later on.
8. Local shopping –if you have a good local produce supplier nearby use them! This should help you avoid over buying products as if you do get low on anything you can easily purchase more. It’s also a great way of supporting your local community.
9. Plate size – if you notice customers are consistently not getting through dishes consider making the plate size slightly smaller.
10. Change menu to minimise leftover food – If you begin to anticipate that you won’t sell a certain item before it spoils, adapt your menu to include a temporary special.
Even if you do manage to reduce food waste significantly it’s still likely you will have some leftovers. Consider the following to manage your food waste:
11. Use ‘food rescue charities’ – these organisations collect excess food from businesses and redistribute it to charities that support vulnerable Australians. Some of the more prominent organisations in Melbourne are: SecondBite, OzHarvest, Foodbank and FareShare.
12. Food Organics recycling programme – KS Environmental can offer you regular and reliable food organics collections ensuring your food waste does not end up in landfill.
If you would like further advice on how you can reduce food waste, KS Environmental would be more than happy to visit your premises and conduct a waste audit. Contact us to find our more.