Jun. 22, 2020

Why restaurants should pay attention to food waste

Retailers and  restaurants throw away more than a billion tons of food every year, causing a negative impact particularly felt in developing countries. Recent studies show that a consumer in Europe or North America produce food waste equal to more than 200 pounds on average every year,10 times more than a consumer in developed African or Asian regions.
The modern countries food system delivers lots of food to the market in order to satisfy consumer demand.
In recent years, general consensus is that preventing surpluses rather than finding something to do with the waste is the most effective path to ending hunger and malnutrition. In fact, one of the 2030 Sustainable Development (Goal#12) highlights responsible consumption and production and states that reducing by half the waste can solve the hunger problem in a short period of time.
Minimizing food surplus improves  conservation of resources, such as land and water.
Regarding climate change, food getting rotten in landfills generates a large amount of greenhouse gas emissions.
These are powerful reasons to justify a transition to systems more aligned to better matching food supply to demand.
In addition  there are business cases for minimizing food surplus: 
 
  •  “ Less is More ”:  Recent studies on statistics show that half of companies investing in reducing food waste gain a strong return of investment. Bigger rewards are the results coming from small changes, like consumer education, staff training and clear date labeling. In general it is not a secret that the most cost-effective, high-return initiatives are those ones aiming at preventing food surplus.
  • Grocery retail shops and restaurants will all turn green very soon: For years, grocery retailers have attracted consumers with piles of fresh and perfectly looking produce, knowing anyway that their inventory management systems are set to reduce stockouts, not surpluses. We can understand this because grocery retail is a low-margin business; it is also now facing strong competition from e-commerce, as digital grocery is changing everything. Only a digital model can match supply and prices demand in real time. Dynamic pricing solutions are being already tested to  automatically lower prices of items near their expiration date. So it is clear that a fierce completion will push in the years ahead toward a more responsible consumption.   
  • Consumers are supporting food waste reduction initiatives: They care about wasted food, perhaps because of their feelings about health and the environment or just because nobody likes to throw money away. Social networks are providing a great help in this direction. Denmark cut its food waste by 25 percent in 5 years after one consumer started a movement on Facebook. New York City hosted a zero-waste food challenge, where  top chefs competed in presenting the best zero-waste dishes. Important hotels groups as well as  independent ones are continuously proposing ways to prevent food surpluses without impacting guests experience. Slowly slowly excess is replaced with luxury and carefully prepared food as well as attention to presentation in buffet, menus, rooms, amenities.


We can see that restaurants and retailers are adopting new practices to cut costs and therefore reduce waste throughout the supply chain. As the world has set bold targets for food-waste reduction, food & beverage businesses will  have to follow and be more appealing to the eye of the consumers.