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Making the business case for food waste prevention

By Sam Smith, Director of Marketing  ///  February 28, 2023

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A strong argument has to be made to bring any new equipment or process into a busy foodservice kitchen, and food waste prevention technology is no exception.

Our recent webinar, “Making the Business Case for Food Waste Prevention,” now available on demand, lays out the triple-bottom-line argument for implementing a food waste prevention system. It frames the business case in addressing the key stakeholder groups most likely to be involved in making the decision: the culinary, finance, operations and sustainability teams.

Watch the 45-minute webinar here and keep reading for some key takeaways.

The problem statement

The problem statement in a business case outlines the reason the organization should care about the issue, and in the case of food waste the problem statement is that the typical kitchen is wasting between 4% and 10% of the food it purchases.

To put that in round numbers: a kitchen with a $1 million USD in annual food purchases is wasting $40k to $100k of that food (and that doesn’t even factor in plate waste). Add the cost of labor wasted preparing that food and the costs nearly double.

There is a cost to brand equity as well. Consumers are more aware than ever of the environmental cost of food waste and the fact that one-third of the world’s food production is wasted while 800 million people go hungry. Recent research shows that 61% of consumers say they expect food companies to address food waste.

The preferred solution

After laying out the problem statement, the business case needs to make the argument for a solution to that problem, with research backing up the decision. In the case of food waste, the preferred solution is prevention.

And we’re not just saying that because prevention is where Leanpath focuses. Stopping food waste from being created to begin with, sometimes referred to as "source reduction," is recognized as the top priority by the U.S. EPA, WRAP in the UK and others. 

But how do you actually prevent food waste? Again, there is guidance, outlined below, from the UN-affiliated group Champion’s 12.3: organizations set a target to reduce food waste, measure their waste to understand what is being wasted and why, and act on insights from that data to keep food waste from reoccurring.

Target, measure, act (2)


With the argument made for the need to focus on food waste, and the preferred solution of prevention outlined, now the business case lays out the expected return on investment. Since food waste carries financial, environmental and social costs, preventing it delivers triple-bottom-line benefits.

From a financial point of view, food waste prevention with Leanpath delivers a 50% average reduction in food waste, which translates into a 2-6% reduction in food purchases. (When you stop wasting food, you can stop buying that food that you know is only going to go to waste.)

When a foodservice organization prevents food waste it is leveraging the most effective tool it has to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, according to Project Drawdown. And when a kitchen prevents food waste, it leaves food in the food system for those who need it. Because as the UN points out, the world produces enough food to feed everybody, we just waste too much of it.

For more detail on all this, plus a review of the 6 common objections you’ll run into and how to address them, check out the full webinar.

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Topics: Food Waste News