Food waste is one of the biggest problems affecting the bar and restaurant industry today. Across the restaurant sector alone, the Waste & Resources Action Programme estimates that a total of £682 million per year is lost through wastage, with the average restaurant losing £0.97 for every meal served. It’s clear something needs to be done.
And it is. Many bars and restaurants are already taking action through reviewed stock management and delivery processes, improved menu planning, staff training and awareness, and smaller portion sizes, and these actions have addressed part of the problem. And the remainder of the problem looks set to be tackled through new, innovative, and highly creative methods that are being introduced around the globe.
Let’s take a look at some of the best ways restaurants are tackling waste today:
Pick ‘n’ Mix menus
According to the WRAP report, chips account for 32% of on-plate wastage, followed by side vegetables such as salad and peas at 18%. By offering a greater degree of menu flexibility - including pick ‘n’ mix or mix ‘n’ match menus - diners have the option to customise their dishes, resulting in a much greater likelihood of the foods being eaten.
Creating new from old
A lot of kitchen food waste could be repurposed into other dishes, reducing the amount of food that’s thrown out during preparation. Asian-style fermented foods such as miso and kimchi (which, coincidentally, are right on trend) are ideal for this. Kitchen scraps such as leftover bread, potato skins, and vegetable ends are great candidates.
While daily availability-based menus may sound daunting, they can have a massive impact on food waste. Some forward-thinking restaurants have started planning menus on the fly based on stock, with limited time deals to use up certain ingredients. The laminated menu is slowly but surely being replaced with real time blackboard displays.
The nose-to-tail approach involves using parts of an animal (or parts of a vegetable) that are not normally incorporated into restaurant cuisine. Artisanal, sausages, terrines, and homemade pates are a good starting point for crafting alternative charcuterie boards. To get diners onboard, try serving up a new cut alongside a familiar one.
Even with the above tricks, it’s not always easy to bring food waste down to zero. That’s why some bars and restaurants have entered into partnerships with local charities that can make use of ingredients to feed the homeless or offer as part of a social supermarket setup. These sorts of donations may also be tax deductible, too.
A focus on sustainability
At a time when many bars and restaurants are looking to heighten their dedication to sustainability and sustainable practices, reducing food waste is one of the most important factors to take into consideration. And while food waste may not be able to be eradicated in the restaurant world entirely, there are many different innovative ways to minimise wastage across the supply chain, in the kitchen, and at consumer level.