5 Ways to reduce food wastage in restaurants

Food wastage in India is a chronic problem, and controlling it, especially in the F&B industry, has been a big challenge. Restaurants alone contribute around 67 million metric tonnes of food wastage per annum. In monetary terms, this amounts to INR 92000 crores and is growing at 8 to 10%. When already struggling with declining food margins, a restauranter needs to ask themself are doing enough to reduce food wastage in restaurants. 

The restaurant needs to reduce wastage as a high waste percentage hits the bottom line of a business and may threaten its existence. In a day and age when the cost of every food commodity is going up due to supply chain bottlenecks created by pandemics and war, the restaurant needs to see they minimize the wastage, if not eliminate it. 

Reasons for food wastage in a Restaurant:-

The five most common reasons for food wastage are as mentioned below:- 

Overordering food ingredients :-

Overordeing is one of the most avoidable, yet the most common mistakes restaurants make. There are still restaurants that depend on manual predictions to place their restaurant inventory orders and end up overordering. An efficient and effective Inventory management system, if mapped correctly, can avoid the problem of over-ordering

Spoilage:-

The varied variety of food ingredients used by restaurants is perishable. If not labeled, stored or used correctly, there are good chances of food getting spoiled. If the staff handling the food is not well trained and doesn’t follow the restaurant’s SOP, then the chances of spoilage are also very high.

Miscalculating portions:-

Miscalculated portions are again a result of improper training or lack of experience. Often, overcautious staff will prep and cook too much, leading to wastage if unchecked; miscalculated portions can escalate wastage.

Wrong orders:-

Wrong ordering and misfires are other reasons for wastage. Incorrect order punching by servers leads to wrong orders. Misfires are when the clients reject the food after the order reaches the table. The reason for misfires can be the client being allergic to some food and realizing the sale after ordering food, or the food is not prepared as per their liking. In either of the above cases, the restaurant should record the reasons for wastage and take corrective steps to avoid them.

Methods to reduce food wastage in restaurants:-

A zero-waste policy is tough to achieve; however, food businesses can minimize the same in the below-mentioned ways:-

Waste audit:-

Before purging the wastage, a food business needs to know the reasons for the food wastage. One can measure food wastage by conducting periodic waste audits. To conduct an audit, choose every day of one week and segregate the waste based on category, i.e., meat, packaging products, perishables (fruits, vegetables, dairy products etc.), and other miscellaneous product. Weight all the wastage and record the same, multiply the same by the number of days the restaurant is open. In this way, you can measure the approximate wastage in the restaurant and exactly which segments generate the most wastage. 

The products which have the heaviest waste bag are the one that needs urgent attention. For example, if in the meat department mutton and prawns products are the ones which score high in wastage, it’s an indicator that these dishes aren’t very popular. There may also be other reasons for wastage, like poor quality products delivered by your vendor or perp cook overdoing the meat cuts. 

A waste audit helps get an overview of what is going wrong with the restaurant’s inventory management and the corrective steps that need to be taken.

Inventory control:-

Mismanagement of inventory is the leading reason for wastage. Many times restaurants end up ordering more than what they need. To make inventory predictions more reliable, the restaurant needs to analyze the current and past sales trends and then make inventory arrangements. Software like inventory management software helps restaurants make accurate inventory predictions. 

Inventory management systems like SupplyNote have smart cart features that, when integrated with the point of sales solution, can set alerts when inventory is running low. When the inventory limit falls below the par limit, the inventory management system generates alerts for a reorder.

SOP’s for reducing food wastage in restaurants:-

Setting a few standard operating procedures for managing inventory can significantly reduce waste. Training staff to correctly handle food, like cleaning, cutting, trimming, and preparing correct portions, is one way to reduce wastage. The front-of-the-house staff asking the guest if they have any allergies can eliminate order misfires. 

Maintaining a kitchen display system instead of a printed KOT can help better order management. There are changes of KOT getting lost or double orders, which a kitchen display system can avoid. Also, the kitchen display system does not need paper rolls which again cuts restaurant costs.

Proper food labeling:-

Food ingredients purchased should be labeled as soon as the food lands on the restaurant premises. FIFO or first in, first out policy should be implemented in a restaurant. In FIFO, products 

need to be labeled as per the period they are stored and utilize the oldest on by putting them on the front of the top so that staff will use them first. In this way, the food with the shortest shelf life is utilized first. 

Labeling plays a critical role in implementing the FIFO policy. New staff should be thoroughly trained about policies to maintain the policy accordingly.

Storing food properly to reduce food wastage in restaurants:-

All food ingredients need to be stored in the correct temperature and appropriate container. Restaurants must ensure that refrigeration in the restaurant is operating at the correct temperature. Ensure that low-risk food is stored in the higher sections of the fridge than the higher-risk food. It’s also important to note that the fridge and other facilities where food is stored are clean and disinfected properly. Improper food storage will lead to pathogen growth or quality deterioration, leading to food wastage. 

Food wastage should be recorded and documented to control the food cost. Traditionally spreadsheets are used for recording the data in restaurants. As you record the instances of wastage, mention the reasons for wastage, like a wasted product, the staff responsible for the wastage, the time and date, and the additional comment or context. 

As you read into patterns of the wastage, it becomes possible to know the reason for wastage, and restaurants can take corrective steps. E.g., when you see one staff being responsible for wastage, you can give them additional training. If products supplied by specific vendors go stale early than the expiry date, you can try and change the supplier. 

Even as you record wastage in quantity terms, it becomes challenging to record the monetary loss caused by wastage. Thanks to the food industry’s digitalization, it becomes possible to analyze the loss caused to the business by wastage. The inventory Management System developed by SupplyNote makes it possible to reduce food wastage in restaurants and has smart features to prevent wastage. To know more about SupplyNote and book a demo, click on the link. 

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