How can I improve waste management in my business | KitchenCUT

With food wastage putting a huge dent in annual profits, many businesses are looking at waste management in their organisations and trying to find ways that they can deal with this issue.  Here, Kitchen CUT Co-Founder and former Michelin Starred Chef John Wood explains what steps you can take to help you reduce wastage…

In 2016 in the UK Hospitality and Food sector alone, there was an estimated £3 billion of food waste. That equates to £0.52 per meal in the UK which s an alarming figure, especially when applied to individual businesses: 750 covers per week equates to an astounding £20,280 of waste.  To recoup that loss you would need to take an additional net revenue in food of £68,000 each year.  

Can I deal with all of my waste management issues?

Quite simply, the answer is no.  However you can drastically reduce your waste management issues by focusing on the specific areas in your business where you can make a difference. Typically, in an a la carte scenario, your waste is broken down into 3 initial areas:Waste-management-quote

  • 45% from food prep

  • 34% from customer plate waste

  • 21% from spoilage

There are 6 key areas that need to be addressed.

  1. Keeping ordering to a minimum and manage receiving/deliveries

  2. Stock rotation

  3. Monitor and record wastage

  4. Product cross utilisation

  5. Portion size/control

  6. Training and education

Waste management: On the plate

Asking waiters to take each plate that comes back from the restaurant or function room, then weigh and record what’s been left is NEVER going to happen and would actually be counter productive, taking the front of house staff away from customers.. To some extent it can be argued that plate wastage has been factored into the costed portion size and as such should be built  into our margins. The worst thing to do is “Knee-jerk” on one or two services when looking at plate returns and start reducing portion sizes. Therefore our recommendation for plate waste is as follows:

  1. Don’t expect to monitor plate waste everyday.

  2. Pick 4-5 different types of days in the month with different covers and if possible different customer demographics and also lunch and dinner.

  3. Don’t try to count and weigh items as they get returned.

  4. Take food waste bins and take a general review and record the high cost items and items that seem to dominate the waste.

  5. Lastly weigh the sacks and record it with an average cost of say £10/$10 per kg/lb

Once you have established what items appear in the sacks the most, review what dishes they come from and look at the portion sizes on those dishes. At this stage you can then make small adjustments to the dishes (these are automatically re-costed for you with Kitchen CUT).

Record what you have done and then do the same again the following month and see what difference has been made.

NB: don’t make huge sweeping adjustments to dishes as this will potentially lose you customers. Small incremental, calculated and monitored adjustments.

Waste management: Food Preparation

This is your largest issue in any professional kitchen at 45% of your waste this is going to be a big number in any business.
Again in any operation it is difficult to weigh and measure every carrot peeling, trimming and cutting. Also there is some preparation wastage that really has no value.  For example, when you have made stocks from bones and vegetables and cooked all the nutrients and goodness out into the liquid, then what is left has no real value anymore and there is nothing you can do with the by-product apart from dispose of it. Recording “Dead Stock” like this is pointless and takes time and effort and distorts any figures you are looking at.

In food preparation there are some key areas where you can make a difference:

  1. Product cross utilisation: for example peeling carrots and then not using the peelings for your stocks, sauces and even to create a carrot stock to cook your carrots in the maximise the flavour. Or washing and drying the peeling to make a carrot powder that can be used on salads, main dishes, soups and even desserts!

  2. Training: for example training someone to properly peel a pineapple to maximise the yield of flesh takes a few minutes but pays for itself in the long run.

  3. Education: making sure all the team know the true cost of products and what it needs to sell that for to recoup the cost in sales.

NB: take snap shots of different areas at different times and ask the team to record as mush as they possibly can into Kitchen CUT. This easy to use system can not only record when but also why and who as well as what action was taken.

Waste management: Spoilage

There are four main areas that you can focus on with spoilage: over ordering, stock rotation, menu cross utilisation and store reviews.

  1. Over ordering: By using a stock management and e-procurement system that is available on Kitchen CUT, you will be able to manage stock levels, order and receive from your suppliers directly, whilst the system tells you what you should have in stock against your sales data.

  2. Stock Rotation: With a closer control over your stock levels and being able to see what and where your stock is in your business, you can avoid ordering unnecessarily- thus reducing spoilage.

  3. Menu cross utilisation: different from product cross utilisation. As this is where you create a tomato sauce for a paste dish, but also look at how you can utilise this item in a dressing, or another main dish with basil and olives. Not only will this use the product up quicker, which avoids spoilage but also reduces labour instead of having to make 3 sauces.

  4. Regular store reviews to look at ageing stock, which is highlighted in Kitchen CUT so you can take action to create specials or use this stock up before it expires.

Waste Management Summary

In reality you are never going to get everyone to weigh and measure everything and some waste is just unavoidable, which you need to accept, however 60% of your wastage you can do something about.Waste Management

  • Don’t just shout at your teams and chefs about waste as this will only get them to hide waste in other bins and waste areas.

  • Encourage them and target them with trying to reduce waste for ethical reasons as well as cost reasons. If you can reduce or waste and improve our profit margins, everyone wins.

  • Target operational manageable areas in segments, monitor waste and then make sensible. calculated and operational realistic targets and plans.

  • Never punish your customers for your inability to manage waste by over-reducing portions.

  • Don’t spend lots of money on equipment that professes to manage your wastage, you just need to train, educate the teams and record it into a restaurant software system like Kitchen CUT that also deals with many other F&B operational issues.

Kitchen CUT has been specifically built to deal with cost, time and waste management by industry experts that have global operational experience, to find out more, take a tour now.

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For more advice and support on managing food wastage, visit our blog.

You can get more information about Kitchen CUT by emailing or calling +44(0)330 113 0050

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