Controlling food waste is a priority for efficiently run restaurants. Waste ?? whether it’s on the consumer side or in the back-of-the-house ?? does occur, and reducing it could present opportunities to save on operating costs. It also could decrease a business’s environmental footprint and reduce hunger.
In all segments of the industry, operators are looking to tackle the challenge of reducing food waste. Today, many restaurateurs track the amount they generate daily. That not only helps them identify the amount of waste created, but also steps to minimize it.
According to National Restaurant Association research, an increasing number of operators actively track their food waste. Of the 500 restaurant owners and operators we surveyed, about half said they monitored the amount of food waste their businesses generate. In addition, about three in four said they do so daily. Furthermore, limited-service, chain operators and franchisees were among the most likely to track their food waste daily.
Why is tracking important? For starters, you can’t manage what you don’t measure, and taking steps to physically reduce waste or feed hungry people is crucial. For example, our survey found about one in five operators said they donate leftover edible food they would otherwise throw away. Why wouldn’t restaurateurs donate food? Fifty-four percent of our respondents said liability or food-safety concerns were the primary reasons for them not participating in food donation programs.
They also agreed that composting is another way to keep food out of landfills. According to the research, 14 percent said they compost at least some food waste. They added that a lack of nearby composting facilities is the No. 1 reason they don’t compost their food waste.
“How restaurants handle and minimize their food waste is important to reducing their overall environmental impact,” said Jeff Clark, our Association’s sustainability manager. “More education about food donation and where to locate local composting facilities could boost donation and composting even more. Providing that information is one of our goals.”