Annually, tonnes of food, dishes that were intended for consumption, end up in the rubbish bin. This is at a huge expense to the catering industry and institutional kitchens. By preventing food waste, a company can not only save a lot of money, it can also make a significant contribution to the environment.
Important in the fight against food waste are measuring the amount of food that is discarded and providing support throughout the organisation. Below, we explain the four important steps you can take to prevent food waste.
1. Measuring food wastage
Identify how many rubbish bags with food you throw away weekly and discuss this with your team. Keep track of what kind of food has to be discarded and why. The clearest way to measure this is to use separate rubbish bins: one for waste from storage, one for kitchen waste and one for food that comes back. Keep measuring and monitoring for a period of time where food is wasted and use this information to find out where the most money can be saved. Measuring very accurately is not necessary; It's about getting a picture of where and when most food is wasted. Use the information gathered as a baseline, so you can see improvement after making changes.
2. Determine how much you can save
Now you know the amount of food that ends up in the rubbish bin, identify where to save the most and make an action plan. Discuss with your team what needs to be done to achieve the saving objective, assess the ideas that are presented and set priorities. The prevention of food waste begins with the procurement process, but it is also important to take steps with regards to storage, preparation and portioning. Make your team collectively responsible for achieving the objectives and the monitoring of the food wastage. Also, talk to colleagues from other departments, suppliers and customers to ascertain their input and ideas on how to reduce food wastage. Make sure you know that you communicate a clear message of your goal.
3. Take action
Inform your team what it takes to achieve the goal set. Then implement the plans and ensure involvement. Keep stakeholders informed of progress and highlight what results have already been made. This allows you to adjust the process and encourage everyone to contribute to the goal. For best support, identify any obstacles, change procedures if necessary, and provide a forum for ideas. To constantly keep the team remembering the objective, share the results in a clearly visible place and make use of a reward scheme. You can also think about a way to involve your guests in your plans so that less food comes back.
4. Measure what you save
During the implementation of the plan, you have worked with your team to achieve the goal. In this last step, you measure the actual savings. Do not just look at the amount of discarded food, but compare the actual progress with the desired progress based on the plans you made. Ask for as much feedback as possible from all parties involved so that you can set new follow-up steps. The prevention of food waste is an ongoing process of measurement and adjustment and you will probably have to adjust the plans on an ongoing basis. By placing food wastage on every agenda, you will be able to reduce your costs further and keep learning how to improve.
At IKEA, much effort is being put into preventing food waste. With the new 'Food is Precious' initiative, the home store will halve its food waste by the end of 2020. Visit their website to read more about the initiative and the results that have been made so far.