Waste reduction should be a key activity for operators

Written by: Angela Hart, Solutions Architect, Fourth

waste reduction
According to research by WRAP, food waste in the UK costs the hospitality and food service industry £2.5bn, with 920,000 tonnes of food being thrown away each year - three quarters of which could have been eaten. On an individual outlet basis, this is estimated to cost £10,000 each year. So why don’t more operators track waste reduction?

If operators threw out their old manual systems and instead deployed technology to eliminate prep guesswork, they could save billions of pounds and avoid wasting such a precious global commodity.

Waste happens in several ways:

  • Customer waste – what is left on the plate.
  • Kitchen waste – not cooking properly, poor quality ingredients or lack of product optimisation.
  • Supplier waste – delivered goods aren’t fit for purpose, overordered products or substitute items that don’t align with brand standards.
  • Staff waste – broken glassware/serveware and ordering errors, such as getting customer orders wrong or incorrect purchase orders with suppliers.

Tracking this waste at every stage of the product life cycle is complex. It involves detailed and accurate record keeping with a myriad of spreadsheets. Throw in human error and it creates unnecessary, manual effort that usually lead to inaccurate reporting. Having one system to record the product life cycle at each stage takes the guesswork out of the process and reduces the gap between actual and theoretical profit.

Since waste should ideally be captured from the ingredient level through recipe creation and day-to-day operational wastage, operators need to deploy technology to simplify and automate from sourcing to the guest experience. Waste tracking technology uses just one set of accurate data for precise comparisons and fosters better decision making. It also:

  • Adds yields at product level and expected waste percentage in recipes and sub-recipes.
  • Tracks supplier deliveries that are not fit for purpose, protecting the bottom line and providing invaluable analytical data.
  • Shows the costs associated with over portioning in recipes.
  • Shows the gap between the actual and theoretical gross profit – and the cause of it.
  • Automatically includes waste at ingredient and recipe level.
  • Automatically factors in shrinkage and cooked weights.
  • Retains version control/history and analytics for better decision making.

But not all systems are equal. The right system will feature technology that is mobile and cloud-based so operators can stay on top of procurement and inventory management while on the go. Mobile tech is crucial for checking inventory deliveries are exactly as ordered, in-date, on-time and in the correct quantities. Good mobile systems can scan deliveries even in areas with no mobile signal, then update as soon as the scanner is back in range. With mobile, product is received at the point of delivery. This ensures any anomalies get dealt with on the spot – not later, when things can be forgotten.

It will also help with prep planning, which historically is based on a mixture of educated guesswork and gut-feel and often includes a “buffer” element to offer leeway if service goes in an unexpected direction. Over-prepped items are typically the costliest – mainly protein or items with a short shelf life. Plus, forecasting skills often vary greatly and training people can be a challenge – using manual calculations to work out how much preparation is needed is resource-heavy, costly and error-prone.

The right system will be part of an end-to-end restaurant platform that has all key performance indicators in one place and allows information to be seen contextually. And it should be intuitive and easy to use, offer full analytics and fit into an existing technical eco-system that includes point of sale, finance and business intelligence/data warehousing.

Too often, operators overlook waste issues within their organisations. But not capturing waste from ingredient level through to recipe creation and day-to-day operations ultimately hurts the bottom line. The right technology can solve the restaurant waste problem. 

For more detail on waste management download our recipe for success
 

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