Posted by Patrick Maness
There’s no doubt that food waste is a problem people have been trying to tackle for years. Yet despite many great minds and well-intentioned people trying to reduce how much food is tossed away, we put roughly one-third of all food produced into landfills. By some estimates, that means almost $400 billion dollars is spent each year on food that is simply thrown away.
This amount of waste presents both a moral and an economic problem. As people have come to see how the digital revolution has provided solutions to many long-standing problems, though, many have wondered if digital technology could help. Here are a few ways that enterprising restaurateurs and foodservice operators have used technology to reduce food waste and save money while doing so.
Easier to donate
The question of how people can go hungry when so much food goes to waste has frustrated countless minds. As a result, many companies have developed apps in hopes of addressing this issue. Apps such as Spoiler Alert, 412 Food Rescue, Zero Percent and more connect restaurants, retailers and others in the foodservice industry with food shelves and charities so leftover food can go to feed those in need, rather than winding up in a landfill. In most cases, a truck picks up the food directly from the restaurant and takes it to a charity. This simple method requires little work from the operator, and it also may make them eligible for tax incentives.
Bakeries have long been known to offer “day-old” bread and pastries at a reduced price. Now the app Pareup is trying to apply this concept to more eateries and various other kinds of food. The idea is to connect users with restaurants and retailers who have unspoiled, unexpired food they would otherwise throw away. Participating restaurants post the food at a discounted price and consumers can scroll through the deals in their city.
Rolling up the sleeves
Even with this new food tech, foodservice management is still tasked with ordering smartly and closely monitoring food use and waste. Fortunately, there are many ways to do this. One is to set par levels and order only the minimum quantity of food you need to make it to the next order. This can help you determine what you use too much of so you can adjust your orders accordingly.
Additionally, it’s useful to offer several “chef’s specials” during the week. These should make use of ingredients that you have too much of and feature items that might go to waste if they are not used within a given amount of time.
While smart apps and digital restaurant technology can help keep food out of the landfill, reducing waste is still dependent on attentive ordering, proper storage and good back-of-the-house management skills.
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