Operators reduce food waste, cut costs and increase margins in sustainability drive

Operators reduce food waste, cut costs and increase margins in sustainability drive

From using left-over milk to make yoghurt and sending bread crusts to brew beer, more and more operators are monitoring and reducing their food waste in a bid to become more sustainable and cut costs.

The Sustainable Restaurant Association (SRA) has estimated that every 200kg of food thrown away equates to £560 to the business.

Caravan Restaurant, Bar & Coffee Roastery told Coffee Business World that it had just invested in a smart monitoring system, called Winnow, with the aim to reduce its food left-overs by 50%. It has already cut waste across all of its sites by 20% through better engagement with the kitchen teams.

While it’s too early to identify the cost savings, creative director Laura Harper-Hinton says reducing costs was “an obvious” advantage to becoming more sustainable. The company was including water and utilises within its sustainability targets too, while also returning food packaging to suppliers.

“We buy seasonal and local. We have set targets of reducing our water, electrical and gas consumption by 30% through better training and management. We use our waste vegetable water to water our plants on our terraces. We use ‘waste’ products like cauliflower stalks to make kimchi and are always encouraging our chefs to come up with dishes utilising ingredients that might otherwise go in the bin,” said Harper-Hinton.

Winnow is a metering system that automatically measures food wastage and gives chefs and staff tips on how to reduce costs and claims to typically save customers 3-8% on food cost.

Elsewhere, Sandwich chain Eat has partnered with eco-conscious brewery Toast Ale, reports the Local Data Company.

Eat will donate its bread crusts to the brewery to be used to create its craft ales and lagers. The first brew, which used 1,040kg of would-be waste bread crusts, is now on sale and can be bought in the form of Toast Pale Ale and Toast Craft Lager at the chain’s five licensed stores at the Royal Festival Hall, Heathrow terminals, Edinburgh and Windsor.

In March the SRA launched its One Planet Plate campaign to highlight sustainability as an increasing number of diners say they are dissatisfied with the environmental impact of the food on offer when they eat out (in a survey by restaurant guide Harden’s only 20% said they were satisfied with how ethical the food is on menus), and is promoting inventive ways chefs are reducing kitchen waste.

Salon restaurant in south London is smashing broccoli stems rather than avocados to make ‘broccomole’ and its chef, Nicholas Balfe, is one of a number of chefs using leftover milk from making coffees to turn into yogurt and even cheese.

  • CEO at Bill’s Restaurants Duncan Garrood, addressing the question ‘when times are tough, what’s on a CEO’s agenda’ on LinkedIn recently said “save unnecessary cost, challenge what you spend but never cut the things that really matter”.
  • Laura Harper-Hinton is a member of the European Coffee Expo’s steering panel.

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