Technology –Winning the war on waste

Recent figures published by the Waste and Resource Action Programme (WRAP) suggest that 75% of food and beverage waste is avoidable.

With an estimated £3bn of waste created annually by the UK hospitality industry, the potential savings for those who engage with a waste management programme is staggering.

Not only can potential savings go straight to the bottom line, improving business profits and reducing cost of sales, but operators can include waste management efficiencies within their approach to Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and Sustainability – both important topics on the foodservice agenda.

Technology has a critical role to play in winning the war on waste. Operators are experiencing first-hand the value of not only accurately measuring and tracking waste, but also the benefits of using Smart technology built into kitchen equipment that can help prevent waste occurring in the first instance.

Arguably, one of the areas where the impact of technology has been felt the most has been in the use of dynamic software systems that support foodservice operators throughout the procurement and production process – the journey from field to fork. By using intelligent software to guide chefs in their buying decisions, their menu choices and their production processes – operators are adopting new methods of working that are having a direct and significant impact on waste and food costs.

As the founder of a successful hospitality software business, I am privileged to witness the reactions of foodservice operators when the power and versatility of software is demonstrated. Their lives and businesses are transformed by its use and simplicity – provided below are just a few examples of software working in practice.

  • Stock Management – software can accurately record stock levels as well as record and interact with customer sales data. Chefs place orders based on live stock levels, and can opt to allow suggested orders based on actual sales.
  • Menu Management – software can support chefs in their menu management decisions. By using software to record the weight, number of bags or full trays of waste after service, these statistics can be compared against menu offerings, and amendments to future offerings made accordingly.
  • Procurement – software supporting the procurement process is developing at a very fast pace. Orders can be automated, linked to stock, menus and sales levels. Systems can ensure that the optimum pack sizes are purchased, thus limiting waste.
  • Recipe Management – software can include anticipated levels of waste for each dish stored on the system. Any increase or decrease in waste level is recorded within the recipe, providing the chef with essential management information to act upon that will have an impact on the cost of sales and waste.
  • Measurement and Tracking – software can provide foodservice operators with waste information at their fingertips. Data is taken directly from the application and presented in optional report formats including KPIs.

This is a simple and automated process, providing evidence of CSR. Across the world, food waste is a hot topic. In 2016 France introduced a new law forbidding food waste by supermarkets. If laws relating to food waste are to be introduced in the UK in the future, the sector will need to be ready.

For foodservice operators (and the planet), there are clear advantages to engaging with technology in order to help manage an effective waste management programme. Peter Drucker, Management expert once said “If you can’t measure it, you can’t improve it”. With software offering accountability, focus and recognition of the day-to-day costs of waste, the industry has a tool available which can support its work in this critical area, and take a step closer to winning the war on waste.