In the U.S., it is estimated that 30-40% of all food is lost or wasted according to the NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council). Luckily, the hospitality industry can take some simple steps to limit their food waste. When resorts and hotels produce less food for an event, they’re more efficient and more profitable. Reducing waste is a good practice toward a more sustainable business, and it can even save money.
With these practical steps, resort and hotel operators can prevent food waste and save money almost immediately. This includes identifying items that are commonly overstocked, redesigning menus, collaborating with suppliers and involving F&B staff.
Monitor and maintain data for items that tend to be overstocked and wasted. Develop a system that monitors the volume and types of food waste on an ongoing basis. This will help operators identify areas for improvement, thus reducing future order quantities, limiting overall waste and protecting the bottom line.
Developing menus that make better use of ingredients can actually increase profitability. Low-waste menu items not only limit associated costs, but they also prove to be a differentiator for a property’s sales and marketing teams. Characteristics of low-waste menus include ingredients such as potatoes and greens; adjusting individual meal sizes to about 1.2 pounds which is consistent with the typical volume a person consumes during a meal; repurposing items across menus, such as serving sausage from breakfast as a pizza topping at lunch; and using scraps to make stocks and soups.
Buying in bulk can save money, but not when the item goes bad before it’s consumed. When working with food suppliers, it may be worth asking about opportunities to keep costs down without having to purchase their required minimums. When sourcing from certain suppliers, there may be additional costs (losses) associated as part of the supply chain, such as handling, storage and transportation losses. When working with local farms or suppliers, these losses may be diminished.
Keeping an open communication channel and involving staff during planning and preparation can also limit food waste. It takes a culture shift that should be merged into a property's daily operations. From menu planning or ordering, it takes a collaborative effort.
Once these and other steps for prevention have been exhausted, resorts and hotels should then look to donation and then landfill diversion only as a last resort.