Food manufacturers play an important role in helping operators minimize their impact.
Managing food waste has always been a top concern for foodservice operators for obvious profit protection reasons. Less food wasted = less food that needs to be restocked. Food waste also carries with it significant environmental and societal consequences. According to Project Drawdown, approximately one-third of all food produced is never eaten, and reducing food waste is one of the top solutions to combatting global warming. And ReFED indicates that over 40 million people in the United States are food insecure.
While this issue is bigger and more complex than what happens in a restaurant kitchen, food manufacturers can take steps to empower their foodservice operator customers to minimize food waste.
1. Develop and promote products using Upcycled ingredients
Upcycled products help reduce food waste by creating high-quality, value-added, food-safe products out of surplus foods that would have otherwise gone to waste. Think breads from spent grains, snacks from imperfect fruits and vegetables, or plant-based milks using nutrient-rich ingredients from other manufacturing processes. This can offer a competitive differentiator for your brand and a menu talking point for your operators.
2. Design packaging that encourages better yield in the kitchen
The path to 100% yield starts with a better user experience, and a better UX starts with research. Interview customers, get into the kitchen, and see how your customers – and their staff – are handling and working with your product. Look for things like the ability to easily and completely empty the bag/can/box and the ease of resealing (if it’s not all being used in one sitting).
3. Offer pre-made, pre-assembled, ready-to-serve products
More scratch-cooking and assembly happening in the kitchen leads to more potential for waste. Think pizza toppings and sandwich components that overflow on the line, flour and sugar spillage, or rarely-used ingredients that go bad. Food manufacturers can offer product solutions that minimize (or eliminate) prep in the back of the house – which also adds to the ever-important labor-saving story.
4. Create menu applications that promote versatile use-cases across dayparts
With shelf and cooler space at a premium, operators are looking for ways to create multiple dishes with a single SKU. Inspire operators to do more with your product to maximize usage. Tap into culinary minds to stretch what’s possible and develop concepts that keep your product in use throughout the day and across the menu. For a starting point, try using generative AI tools to inform creative menu applications that repurpose your product.