7 Food Waste Statistics Every Chef Should Know

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ReFed, a collaboration of over 50 private, non-profit, and public-sector leaders committed to reducing food waste in the United States, created a Restaurant Food Waste Action Guide that highlights how to implement practices to decrease the food waste in your operation. We highlight 7 statistics from the guide that will show you how important it is to reduce waste now:

  1. “The restaurant industry alone generates about 11.4 million tons of food waste annually at a cost of about $25 billion per year.”

That is a huge number! When you’re throwing food in the trash, you might as well just burn your money from the start. Making small changes to decrease food waste can positively affect your bottom line. If you’re noticing a large amount of food being thrown away, the first place to look is with your orders. Are you ordering more food than you need? Watch your numbers for a few weeks and you should start to see how your food orders can be more accurate to your needs.

  1. “For every dollar invested in food-waste reduction, restaurants can realize about $8 in cost savings.”

If your orders are spot on, but your food is going bad before the next shipment arrives, the problem is probably with your food storage. Are you using food storage containers that work hard to keep your food fresh? Cambro makes Seal Covers and GripLids that fit Camwear Food Pans to keep food fresher, longer.

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  1. “Cornell University research on food psychology found that consumers given larger bowls took 16 percent more cereal than those with smaller bowls. Consumers generally find a 70-percent fill rate to be visually pleasing.”

Although huge portions and oversized foods are a major trend in restaurants right now, these Instagram-worthy items that lay half eaten on plates contribute a lot of food waste. Being conscious of the size of dishes you’re using to serve food can help cut down on food waste. A large platter of potatoes with an omelet may elicit good reactions from customers, but if they are rarely finishing the meal, it isn’t worth it.

  1. “Restaurants have the potential to divert 390,000 tons of food annually to recovery, the equivalent of 643 million meals.”

If you’re finding perfectly good food is going to waste because it will go bad by tomorrow or restaurant protocols prohibit you from doing so, food recovery programs are a great option. Most cities have organizations that are happy to come pick up food that will otherwise go in the trash. Click here to find a Food Rescue near you.

  1. “Consumers are starting to consider food waste when choosing a restaurant. A study by Unilever revealed that 72% of U.S. diners care about how restaurants handle food waste, and 47% would be willing to spend more to eat at a restaurant with an active food recovery program.”

This percentage surprised us, and it is probably equally surprising to you. Despite many people being entertained by wild portions, when it comes down to it, most people do care how restaurants handle what’s left behind. If you’re worried about the cost you might incur by participating in a food recovering program, you might also be surprised to know that your customers could be willing to spend a little more to help support it.

  1. “Off-spec produce, used as a lower-cost substitute for retail-grade, cosmetically perfect food, lowers input costs without sacrificing quality in a restaurant setting. Restaurants can realize $132 million annually in cost-savings by using imperfect produce.”

Equality for produce! Oddly shaped produce is often ignored and eventually thrown away because it looks weird, but when a potato is diced—it all looks the same. Save this otherwise wasted food while simultaneously getting it at a discount. Sounds like a win-win to us.

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  1. “To avoid throwing out fats, oils, and grease, McDonald’s launched its oil recycling program in 2007. In 2013, it collected 3.7 million liters of used cooking oil, which was converted into 3.1 million liters of biodiesel, enough to fuel about 42% of its delivery fleet.”

Recycling isn’t just for materials! Does your operation use a high amount of FOGs? If you’re a high-volume or multi-unit brand that is looking to repurpose their FOGs instead of throwing them away, McDonald’s has already paved the way for you. Look into how your FOGs can be converted into fuel that can be utilized by your company.

These statistics just scrape the surface of the good that can come from paying closer attention to the amount of food waste your operation emits. Our challenge to you: take one suggestion from the list, implement it at your operation and let us know what kind of results you see. Ready to make a deeper commitment to reducing food waste? Contact your Cambro rep to get started today.


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