5 Ways To Reduce Commercial Food Waste
1. Measure what you waste
If the bins are always filled with a certain kind of food, it is a good idea to do a recap of how and why this happens, and make changes. “Many kitchens over-cater certain food types. This is especially true for buffet meals,” says Karen Heron, CEO at Earth Probiotic. “But if you are continually finding that 50% of what you waste is bread rolls, then you can reduce purchases of this food.”
2. Improve logistics management systems, especially the cold chain
“A large majority of food waste doesn’t reach the store shelf or the intended consumer,” says Emile Fourie, operations director at Ywaste. While it’s easy to think of spoiled food as items left unsold on store shelves, it is routine for wastage to occur long before then. Poor logistics is a root cause, as food is not kept to standard in transit, and more so for food that needs to be kept cold. An improvement in the logistics chain could prevent a lot of food wastage.
3. Mark down older stock and sell it on to wholesalers
As food approaches its sell-by date, prices can be reduced to entice customers to pick it up. When this date passes, many foodstuffs are still safely edible and can be sold on to wholesalers who specialise in the sale of such goods. “There is a huge market for consumers who would purchase goods at reduced rates that are still fit for human consumption,” says Fourie.
4. Make sure your food suits your customer (and it’s delicious)
One way to ensure that food does not spoil and go to waste is simply to create food that customers want to eat. As Heron says, “Bad-tasting food is always wasted.” The nebulous task of “making food taste better” can be accomplished by getting to know your customers. Certain cultural groups will prefer certain kinds of food, for example.
Fourie and Heron agree that once food reaches a point where it can no longer be consumed, its best use is as compost for the next crops. This process returns the nutrients and minerals to the soil, and it eliminates the need for the food to be collected and destroyed. Both Ywaste and Earth Probiotic offer composting services, but many other companies and public projects do the same.
Packaging that preserves food
Aseptic packaging is sterilised prior to filling it with ultra-high temperature (UHT) treated food, which provides a product that is shelf stable for six months. Penny Ntuli from Tetra Pak says, “The aseptic process flash heats food and liquids during processing in a commercially sterile environment. That kills pathogens, which are germs harmful to human beings.
“The product is then sealed inside the carton pack where six distinct layers protect the product inside from contamination by outside air and sunlight. This preserves the natural quality and freshness of the product, as well as the original taste.”
According to Ywaste, 40% of what heads to landfills is food waste.