"Although waste may not rack up huge costs for individual restaurants, in a competitive industry with rising prices, any threat to your bottom line needs to be dealt with as a priority."
The waste created in UK restaurants
£682 million a year is the approximate price tag attributed to the accumulation of food waste in restaurants all over the UK. Responsible for creating 22% of the Hospitality and Food Service industry’s waste, restaurants produce 915,400 tonnes of waste, including 199,100 tonnes of food waste. Businesses are currently losing 97p from each meal they serve in avoidable food waste.
Whether you offer a fine dining experience or a casual eating atmosphere at your restaurant, taking off almost £1 from your profits from each plate of food served will have a great effect on your revenue. Take a pub restaurant for example; according to data from How To Run A Pub, the average spend on a three-course pub meal is £14.48. 6% of this amount (97p) is immediately stripped from this total to account for avoidable food waste, before overheads like wages, utilities and maintenance are removed.
Positively, recycling appears to be a popular trend in the restaurant industry. 51% of all waste from restaurants is recycled, with 65% of packaging and other wastes recycled. Clearly then, for restaurants to minimise the impact on their bottom line, they need to implement efficiencies — especially when it comes to waste management and disposal. But is this easier said than done?
How are consumers reacting to restaurant waste?
The key to bringing down the rate of food you waste is consumer knowledge — who are your customers? One survey found that 27% of diners left food on their plate when dining out. Generally, it seems that diners are comfortable with this, as three fifths said doing so was not concerning.
Nearly a third of chips were typically left on plates to be thrown away — making chips the most commonly wasted food — while vegetables including peas and salad garnishes followed in second place with 18%.
But what are the reasons behind people choosing to simply leave food uneaten on their plates? 41% said that they left parts of their meals because the portions were too large. Other factors can also have an influence. The number of courses ordered can influence how much food is left; diners may, for example, leave more of their main course if they have ordered a dessert. Who we dine with can also influence how much we eat; if we are comfortable with our company, we will usually eat more than what we would in a professional situation.
Tips for reducing food waste
Don’t rely on your customer to ‘get greener’ and start minimising their food waste. It’s a restaurant manager’s responsibility to do all they can to reduce the level of leftover food that gets thrown away.
Here are some pointers to help you get going on lowering waste:
· Think about the various levels of hunger: we don’t all want a huge meal. Cater for all by including lighter options on your menu and naturally reduce the cost accordingly.
· Be flexible with your menu: let your customers amend what you put in front of them. This means letting them change sides (i.e. swapping something they don’t like and won’t eat for something they do like and will eat). Customers that aren’t offered this flexibility may order additional items separately, meaning they will leave more of the original dish. Some restauranteurs may encourage this to boost revenue, but it’s important to remember that increased food waste can cost. Is it worth it?
· Allow customers to take away their leftover food: 42% of people said asking for a doggy bag is embarrassing, yet 74% said they don’t might being offered a carton to take leftovers home with them. Rather than making it a thing, simply get your staff to politely offer the take-away option at the end of a meal if enough has been left.
Article supplies by Inn Supplies