Feeding Change: Taking Action Against Food Waste in Restaurant Operations

5 min read
Sep 8, 2023 6:58:58 AM

customer experience management

Food waste massively impacts those in the hospitality industry’s profit margins. If you’re overbuying food or finding yourself constantly wasting food products, you may want to start creating ways to reduce your food waste. After all, the more money you spend on unused food the less profit you’re able to make. 

You could reduce waste by:

  • Taking stock of the food you have
  • Ordering food by sell by date on your shelves or fridges
  • Properly storing food to maximise shelf life
  • Understanding why customers are sending food back

Restaurants in the UK produce 199,100 tonnes of food waste every year, amounting to £682 million annually. This is equivalent to 320 million meals being discarded by restaurants, an amount five times greater than the UK’s population! 

Another significant contributor to food waste is the repeated return of dishes by customers, resulting in the need to replace the food items. It’s important to keep track of what dishes are having problems and how frequently they’re being sent back and replaced so that you can put a plan of action together to reduce this issue. 

If you’re looking to reduce your food waste, this blog and our expertise at Yumpingo can help you gather data, gain insights and implement the right procedures to drive positive changes in your company.

The benefits of reducing food waste

33% of all food globally goes to waste, making it clear that reducing your food waste has a positive impact, not just on you, but on the planet as a whole. Some pros include:

Saving money

Lowering the amount of food you waste can start with decreasing the amount of food you buy. For example, if an item on the menu isn’t particularly popular, you may want to reduce the produce you buy for this dish. To know this, you’ll need better clarity on what food is performing well, what’s being sent back and what isn’t being ordered frequently. 

To gain a better understanding of your restaurant’s performance, it would be useful to record customer experience at a more granular level to help you make better decisions about what you should purchase and sell.  

Ben Kaggins, Executive Chef at Frankie and Benny’s The Restaurant Group says that it’s very difficult to target what needs to come off the menu, but finds that ‘Yumpingo gives us actual guest satisfaction and what they want to change and what they like and don’t like.’ 

Here at Yumpingo we give our clients the ability to make data driven decisions that lead to better success. In terms of food waste, our data on what dishes customers like and don’t like can help you make choices relating to the dishes you serve, helping you decrease the food you waste.

Saving costs and looking at margins are imperative for restaurants to survive the rising cost of living crisis. Research by Industry Lobby Group shows that the number of restaurants in Britain have declined by 3,415 since March 2023, which is equivalent to 18%.

Lowering your food waste can increase profit margins as you will stop spending money on produce you don’t need. This is ultimately one of the most cost effective ways to run your restaurant.

It can help to improve your company’s reputation

Decreasing the amount of food you waste can have huge effects on your company’s reputation. Demonstrating your commitment to sustainability and reducing carbon emissions builds loyalty among staff and customers. It showcases your care for them and the planet while delivering excellent service and quality food.

If you get your meals right every time and reduce the amount of dishes being sent back, you’ll be on the money. Using a Customer Experience Management Platform can help you really understand what your customers enjoy about your food and the quality of service. This information can help you improve your customer experience, which in turn can improve your profits.    

Reduce food waste with Yumpingo 

Here at Yumpingo we understand the importance of monitoring your food waste bins. Simple ways you can track this is through asking questions like:

  • Are our portions too large? Is a lot of food being left on returning plates?
  • Are our meals hot all the way through? If not there may be a technical issue in the kitchen causing food to be thrown away.
  • Are plates not being served quick enough? Are they going to the table luke-warm or cold?
  • Are people not enjoying meals but also not making any complaints?

Our Customer Management Experience technology can help you collect valuable data and insights that give you the opportunity to reduce your restaurant’s food waste. Our software collects live guest feedback relating to the dishes you serve; boosting guest happiness, loyalty and sales.

We gather feedback through emails and devices and calculate an NPS (Net Promoter Score) and Guest Sentiment Score. These along with the insights given about your dishes can give you the information you need to make the best possible data driven decisions that can help you reduce your food waste and improve customer satisfaction. Information gathered by our Customer Experience Management platform can relate to: 

  • The quality of their dish.
  • How good their server was – were they knowledgeable, attentive and friendly?
  • How the atmosphere and the cleanliness of the restaurant was.

To find out more about how our Customer Management Experience software can help you reduce your food waste, get in touch with us today. 

Other ways to manage your food waste

Undertaking a food waste audit

Conducting a waste audit allows you to properly understand the stock you waste and how frequently you waste it. Having this on record can help you calculate how much food waste is costing your company and can help you create a waste reduction strategy to help boost profits and decrease waste.

Make a waste management log

Introducing this process into your restaurants can help you keep track of what you waste and whether your reduction strategy is working as well as if any changes need to be made to help optimise your procedures. This can also help keep your staff accountable for following waste management strategies, ensuring you’re throwing away as little food as possible, helping you increase profits and reduce waste.

Plan your menu more effectively 

Planning your menus more effectively can allow you to prevent dishes being sent back to the kitchen, giving you the opportunity to make the most value out of your dishes.  

For example, one of the biggest contributors to food waste are potato skins. Making menu changes that include the use of potato skins, like offering skin on fries or jacket potatoes could be a great way to reduce the amount of food you get rid of, while making a greater profit. 

Allow customers to make swaps 

A great way to reduce your food waste is by giving your customers the option to swap items on the menu. For example, if a customer orders a burger, you could give them the option of ordering chips or a side salad. This should help combat food waste as your customers are opting for the food item they’re more likely to finish or not send back. 

 Donate food

As a business you can donate your leftover food to local charities or hospices. You can also use digital platforms like Too Good To Go or Food For All to make it easy to distribute food to those who need it while making some extra money.


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