Globally each year, around 1.3 billion tons of food are wasted, and 40% of that comes from restaurants. These numbers illustrate the pervasiveness and severity of the problem as well as the resounding impact it has on the world.

Waste at this volume can also seriously hurt your restaurant’s bottom line; throwing away food is throwing away money. According to the National Restaurant Association, on average, a restaurant loses four to 10 percent of food they purchased. And a report prepared on behalf of Champions 12.3 finds that for every $1 companies invested to reduce food loss and waste, they saved $14 in operating costs. So not only is the world and your reputation benefiting, but so is your pocket book.

More and more, restaurants are receiving pressure by environmental organizations and governmental bodies to limit food waste and enact prevention strategies. For example, New York City found that NYC restaurants were responsible for generating half million tons of food waste a year. In response, the mayor initiated the “Food Waste Challenge” to help reduce waste by committing to a 50 percent decrease in food waste.

In what ways is food getting wasted at restaurants? Data from the Waste and Resources Action Programme (Wrap) estimates that in commercial kitchens, 21% of food waste arises from spoilage, 45% happens during food preparation and 34% comes from customers’ plates.

Reducing Waste With Your POS

Go green and commit to cutting costs by implementing an inventory management system. By tracking inventory closely and frequently, you can reduce the amount of food you waste. When shopping around for an inventory management system, here is what the system should include:

1. Categorize

Your ingredients’ life cycles vary widely. For instance, the ingredients that make up a burger and fries come from different vendors, perish at different rates, and vary in consumer demand. With granular tracking capabilities, you can know exactly when and how much you need to purchase of each ingredient. By accessing up to the second tracking data you can reduce wasted inventory.

2. Intermediate Tracking

At this level of inventory tracking  you can better track spoilage and made in-house ingredients. As is often the case, recipes need to be modified on the spot. So put a system in place to ensure you’re getting a detailed picture of your inventory numbers, from large supply vendor deliveries to last minute recipe adjustments.

3. Forecasting

Many different factors can influence inventory levels throughout the year. Revel’s Automatic Alerts and Purchase Order Creation monitors stock levels with alert thresholds and allows you to easily create new purchase orders when stock levels need adjusting.

The cost of food for the preparation of meals is the second largest expense in restaurants, according to POS Sector. So be sure that you are complimenting your inventory management system with other green practices like, changing your menu to minimize leftovers, recycling and composting everything appropriately, repurposing ingredients, keeping your stock organized, and donating food.

The reality is that the restaurant industry is a huge threat to our global food supply. With over 80% of food improperly disposed of, restaurants are losing money, hurting their reputation, and diminishing our food supply. By implementing a robust inventory management system, and living by the three R’s – reduce, reuse, recycle, restaurants can become advocates of sustainability.

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