Understanding food waste
Food waste has become a global issue that the world is struggling to fight effectively.
Although the COVID-19 pandemic has significantly slowed down the entire service industry, the industry itself still contributes to the majority of the world’s food waste.
Recently, more and more businesses, organisations and governments have emerged with waste management solutions, recycling options, and food waste reduction proposals but fails to trigger general adoption and enthusiasm from the society.
Ironically, the current Covid-19 crisis may play a role in raising people’s awareness about the global food waste problem. Not only because people want to re-focus on what matters most: Health; but also because in tough times, they are more inclined to explore any cost saving opportunities. At individual level, food-waste related savings might be marginal but for a Multinational Hotel chain, it might actually represent several thousands of dollars every month.
Let’s try to see the glass half full and hope this trend will last. Here is why it should.
There are three good reasons to work towards global food waste reduction :
- An opportunity for Chefs and professional kitchen Managers to lower down their procurement cost significantly. By reducing food waste, procurement will only buy what is needed and reduce excess food.
- The positive environmental impact it brings – even small – towards the greater waste management efforts on a global scale.
- Worldwide savings of energy generated by better food waste management and recycling.
Let’s dive deeper into each reason to understand how a better food waste management system could help us all.
The Financial Impact
Recent studies carried out over 25 different countries to identify when and where food waste occurs in commercial kitchens, found out that most of the food waste generated in kitchens largely occurs during food production and preparation. The amount of food waste can reach as much as 25% of all the food entering a kitchen and up to 50% of all the food produced for buffets.
They also calculated that the costs related to these food waste are on average equal (and sometimes even greater than) to the total net profits generated from selling those meals. Wasting food is basically wasting all the good efforts that Restaurants and Chefs are putting to generate margins over the meals they sell ?
Knowing how much food loss you collect in your garbage bins on a daily basis, and knowing how much to reduce based on the information is critical to effectively reduce your kitchen’s costs.
Collecting information on these avoidable food waste and acting upon it will result in you saving cost on excessive food supply. Why still serve x amount of a particular dish when you know most of it goes into the bin at the end of service? Not only this is disastrous environmentally speaking but it also comes down to throwing your money directly into the trash.
In the long run, adopting such best practice will contribute in making your kitchen more sustainable, doing good to your wallet as well as the environment. Besides, more and more kitchens today are proud to communicate about their efforts towards sustainability and there is every reason to believe that customers will become more and more sensitive to these arguments when choosing where they want to stay.
The Environmental Impact
Have you ever thought about the consequences of unconsumed food on landfills?
When buried in landfills, Food waste releases methane gas, a greenhouse gas into the atmosphere which is 25x more harmful to the environment compared to carbon dioxide.
To fight these greenhouse gases emissions, businesses, organisations and governments are developing strategies and deploying devices such as food waste digesters which are also consuming a lot of energy, therefore producing carbon emission.
Resources and Energy Conservation
As a matter of fact, more waste management also means more resources and energy needed, and this is precisely why we need to tackle the root cause of Food Waste. Less Food Waste means less need for energy to fight it, resulting in lower consumption.
Government policies on better waste management have been effective in some countries, but it takes the efforts of everyone to siphon off the weight, that is, food waste on our planet. The efforts of the Hospitality and the F&B industries to reduce their food waste is critical in finding a solution to better manage our Global food waste problem.
How can we effectively reduce waste from professional kitchens ?
One of the first step kitchens can take to become more sustainable is to track and measure how much is being thrown away and act upon it by re-adjusting the quantities ordered, and this is what Lumitics offers.
Lumitics is using Image Recognition technology to provide an in-depth analysis of your Food Waste and proved to be a game-changer for many in the industry. From Hyatt to Andaz and Singapore Airlines, Lumitics is collaborating with the largest Hotel chains and Airlines to help them in their sustainability journey.
As of today, tech startups aiming at reducing wastes are blooming, offering a comprehensive panel of solutions to the industry. Let’s explore them.
Innovation technologies dedicated to reduce food waste from Supermarket
In the UK, Total CTRL is offering retailers with automated expiration dates. Tech allows grocers to better track the expiration date and lower the amount of food waste generated from their kitchens, making sure products expiring soon are used in priority and crafting menus based on what’s left in the kitchen instead of always buying more of new products.
Wasteless is a Europe and US based company offering supermarkets with AI powered dynamic pricing that connects the point of sale system in the store to electronic labels and adjusting the pricing of perishable products to make sure they are bought and not thrown away.
Mimica is another UK-based company offering restaurants a temperature-sensitive indicator cap or label providing information about the freshness of their food so that they can store the food at the right temperature, adjust their menu, and therefore reduce their food waste and save money.
Innovation for Hospitality and food services businesses
It’s important to learn how to reduce food waste in hotels, as it is responsible for around $100 billion in losses every year for the Hospitality industry. Tenzo is management and analytics software for restaurants, bars, and cafes to help them study their kitchen habits and reduce their waste.
Despite optimising professional kitchens in order to reduce food waste, some are unavoidable. Too Good to Go is offering a sustainable way to deal with that amount of waste, offering bar & restaurants’ food surplus to hungry customers through a dedicated marketplace. It is a great way for Restaurants to reduce the amount of food waste they generate and even monetise it.
Bringing tech to farms
Food Waste is not only generated at Supermarkets and Restaurants. It can actually arise very early in the supply chain, right from the production site. Farms, as much as restaurants, can develop systems and rely on tech to optimise their processes, better manage their food production and reduce food waste.
Full Harvest is a company buying from farms the ugly fruits and vegetables that supermarkets are reluctant to showcase on their stalls, and then selling them to F&B companies and restaurants who need them to produce their meals. Not only helping restaurants to reduce food waste, but also offering them with supplies at discounted rates.
Plantix is a Berlin-based startup helping farmers to boost their productivity. This agriculture App helps farmers to identify soil problems, diseases and pests, all while offering possible solutions and connecting farmers with scientists. By ensuring a healthy soil, farmers can make sure that every grain planted grows into edible and sellable vegetables, and do not go to waste because it is spoiled.
To conclude, working towards global food waste reduction can be beneficial to us all. Not only is it critical to save our planet to deploy every possible effort towards less food destruction, but it is also a must-do for the Hospitality and the F&B industries to adopt more sustainable processes in order to survive the new economic context. In addition to adopting more sustainable lifestyles and practices in our Home and Businesses, Technology appears to be a powerful lever in developing a more sustainable food supply chain.
Reach out to us at Lumitics to help you track all your food wastage seamlessly without any changes to your current kitchen workflow.