New research shows that supply chain has a key role to play in changing behavior as restaurants have saved $7 in operating costs for every $1 they invested in food waste reduction programs.
In a first-of-its-kind analysis, ‘The business case for reducing food loss and waste: restaurants’ report evaluated financial costs and benefit data from 114 restaurants across 12 countries.
The research shows that nearly every site realized a positive return on its investment to reduce food waste and within one year, the restaurants had reduced food waste from their kitchens by 26% on average.
The results also showed that three-quarters of restaurants had recouped their initial investment during the same time frame.
The types of investments restaurants made included measuring and monitoring the amount of food wasted, training staff on new food handling and storage procedures, and redesigning menus.
Every site was able to keep their total investment below $20,000, showing that the cost to make changes was inexpensive but the benefits were high for all businesses assessed.
The 7:1 return on investment comes from buying less food and thereby reducing purchase costs, increasing revenue from new menu items developed from leftovers or foods previously considered “scraps,” and lower waste management costs.
Dave Lewis, group CEO of Tesco and chair of Champions 12.3, said: “The only way we can halve food waste by 2030 is if restaurants and other businesses along the supply chain step up their action. Every part of the food industry has a responsibility to reduce food waste.
“These findings make it crystal clear that reducing food waste isn’t just the right thing to do, it’s also the smart business move.”
The report recommends restaurant owners and managers take a “target, measure, act” approach to reduce the amount of food wasted from their kitchens.
It outlines five action steps for restaurant managers, based on interviews with those who have implemented successful food waste reduction programs.
This includes measuring the amount of food being wasted to know where to prioritize efforts, engaging staff, re-thinking inventory and purchasing practices, reducing overproduction, and re-purposing excess food.
Liz Goodwin, senior fellow and director, food loss and waste at World Resources Institute, said: “Chefs and kitchen managers put a lot of care into the food they serve. If they give just as much attention to ensuring none of it goes needlessly to waste, they also can put money in their pockets.”