The third installation into our Trendy Tuesday segment will focus on food waste in restaurants. Reducing waste is both a top restaurant and top concept trend predicted for 2017. In simple terms, restaurant food waste describes any food or food product thrown out in the restaurant. This waste also extends to take-out, which ends up trashed if not eaten. The skins shaved off of the potato; waste. The leftovers you don’t take home; waste. The garnish on the plate no one eats; waste. This year, restaurants and consumers both look for ways to minimize food waste.
Food Waste Statistics
Food waste divides itself into two categories: pre-consumer waste and post-consumer waste. According to the organization, End Food Waste Now, pre-consumer waste includes trimmings, spoiled food or overproduction. In contrast, post-consumer food includes uneaten leftovers or returned food; essentially any uneaten food that has left the kitchen. The U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates that Americans waste 30-40 percent of the food supply. This equals to about 520 million tons of food from restaurants each year. Bottom line for restaurants; food waste can kill profit. While some restaurants compost waste, the majority end up in landfills. One might wonder why Americans produce so much waste. Simply put, food waste went almost unnoticed until recently.
Food Waste Solutions
Anyone from the government to the consumer can help solve the wasted food problem. In fact, the National Restaurant Association has teamed with the Food Waste Reduction Alliance, or FWRA. This partnership strives to reduce waste by increasing donations and diverting unavoidable waste from landfills. Another resolution includes keeping track of tossed plated food, helping to control portions served. This may indicate your kitchen prepares too much food for consumption. Other solutions include composting, storing food properly to ensure it does not go bad or re-purposing food.
An increasing number of restaurants have started to re-purpose food. In addition, “leftover meals” have helped feed soup kitchens, homeless and hungry. Turning scraps into meals are an easy way to re-purpose what would have become waste. For example, broccoli and cauliflower stems taste great mashed into soups or potatoes. Crusts or day-old bread also make a great crouton. One festival, Feeding the 5,000, partnered with an environmental organization and a Michelin-starred restaurant to reduce waste while feeding the hungry. This program turned many high-end restaurants’ waste from the previous night into enough meals to feed 5,000 for free.
As 2017 continues forward, think about ways your restaurant can reduce waste. While consumers love great deals on food, they now show concern about food waste as well. Many initiatives are in place to help reduce waste and restaurants and consumers alike can take action. For more information on this topic, and how you can help reduce waste, visit www.foodwastealliance.org.