With Food Costs High and Heading Higher, Efficiency is Essential
The worst drought in nearly a half century: this news has been making headlines and causing concern for foodservice operators. The August 2012 USDA Consumer Price Index (CPI) forecast estimates a 4 to 5 percent increase just for beef in 2013. Pork, eggs and dairy products are also predicted to increase substantially.
Many analysts predict that these increases in food prices aren’t going away any time soon. And it’s this reality that’s keeping all of us in foodservice up at night, wondering how to protect the bottom line. Do we change menu items? Reduce food quality? Cut staff? Raise prices? All of these “solutions” to combat rising food costs will negatively affect our businesses. But there’s one area in which our industry still leaves money on the table (or in the trash bin in this case): wasted food.
Where should you start?
Start by tracking all pre-consumer food waste every day. For LeanPath customers, your automated system makes this easy and efficient. For organizations that are looking to get started, download a paper tracking sheet from our Web site.
Target high-waste areas with maximum savings potential first. Working with foodservice operators, we’ve found that by tracking and targeting high-cost opportunities, you can reduce your annual food costs by 4% or more. Do you know which areas are leaking the most cash from your operation?
Engage your entire team. Encourage everyone to play a role in creating new solutions. Challenge chefs to come up with new ways to safely and creatively re-use foods. Challenge managers to reduce more waste than the week before. Stay focused and results-driven with daily measurement.
As an industry, we need to face high costs head on and get ahead of the issue. This means ruthlessly targeting inefficiency. There’s still a lot of food going to waste in the kitchen, from overproduction, spoilage, expired items and excessive trim. It’s within our control to recover the 4-10% of food that’s being thrown out just at the pre-consumer level, in order to put those dollars back on our bottom line at precisely the moment we need them most.