When “sustainability” became a regular topic in the foodservice industry about ten years ago, it was common to group the conversation neatly into sub-components: energy, water, waste, food sourcing, and community engagement (among others). This was all new for most, and the learning curve was steep in each area. Operators wondered: where should I start? What matters most? Everyone made their own choices because there was no hierarchy within sustainability.
We all know that controlling costs is critical to running a successful business, especially in foodservice. Recently the cost of labor has been top-of-mind, as various pieces of legislation take effect to raise the minimum wage in certain parts of the United States. How to react to this challenge? After years of optimizing labor, operators have few opportunities to reduce labor without damaging their business in fundamental ways. Raising menu prices to offset the increases isn’t often viable, nor will it please customers. So what can foodservice operators do to manage the adverse impact of rising labor costs?
A recent study on awareness and attitudes around food waste in the United States has yielded some interesting findings. The study, conducted by Danyi Qi and Brian Roe of Ohio State University, shows that while awareness around the food waste crisis is growing, there is a significant discrepancy among how people perceive their role in fighting food waste. The survey focuses on consumer attitudes of household food waste, but unsurprisingly, many of the findings parallel similar issues we encounter in the commercial foodservice industry. What the study makes clear is that changing individuals’ behavior on a large scale is the key to widespread and sustainable food waste reduction.
As the food waste movement continues to grow, more and more people around the world understand just how pressing the issue of wasted food is. From consumers, to foodservice managers, to chefs and beyond, everyone has a role to play in reducing food waste and loss along the supply chain.
One of the drivers of food waste that we often highlight in LeanPath educational sessions is confusion around date labels. This can sometimes be the case in foodservice—where employees may be required to throw out products in bulk once they have reached a certain date—and often at home, where many consumers don't think twice about pouring a gallon of still-good milk down the drain if they see a date on it that has passed.