Food Waste Blind Spots
Written by Andrew Shakman for Foodservice Equipment & Supplies; Published on Monday, 02 July 2012.
Almost like a celebrity on a red carpet, food waste has begun to receive significant attention within the foodservice industry. This has occurred, in part, as a result of increased interest in foodservice sustainability and early regulatory requirements to remove food waste from landfills in places like Seattle and San Francisco.
With the spotlight shining bright, many foodservice operators feel motivated to implement solutions. However, just as any bright light can be temporarily blinding, our industry has developed several food waste blind spots. By focusing in the wrong areas, we miss major financial and environmental opportunities. Fortunately, these blind spots disappear quickly once your eyes adjust to the full range of strategies available to combat food waste.
A Global Problem of Breathtaking Scope
Just how large of a problem is food waste? There are numerous estimates, but they all suggest between 30 percent and 40 percent of the food we produce becomes waste somewhere in the supply chain from production to consumption. Globally, this represents 2.6 trillion pounds of food waste according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. The respected global management consulting firm McKinsey & Company recently published a report identifying economic opportunities linked to more productive use of natural resources. McKinsey ranked 130 resource inefficiency areas and concluded food waste represents the third largest economic opportunity globally, amounting to $252 billion dollars. Focusing just on the U.S. out-of-home restaurant and foodservice industry, LeanPath estimates between $8 billion and $20 billion of waste occurs at the pre-consumer level — this includes losses before food ever reaches a guest, including overproduction, spoilage, expiration and trimmings.