With social distancing norms in place to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and the population being encouraged to stay home as much as possible, shopping behaviours towards food purchasing have changed drastically.
According to WRAP, a range of individual food items such as milk and bread, and long-life products such as pasta, rice, and frozen vegetables are being purchased more than ever as compared to pre-lockdown.
As a result, supermarkets are left with frozen ready-to-eat meals, salad packs, ready-to-eat vegetables and other frozen but perishable foodstuffs that are not being purchased and ultimately are discarded as waste.
Restaurants are also facing similar problems as they were forced to shut down or only offer delivery services early this year. Nearly half of the restaurants surveyed by The Guardian say they throw most food waste into the bin due to irregular ordering patterns.
Pubs, being a vital part of the social fabric of the UK, face a crisis of survival due to the pandemic. As thousands face closure, gallons of ale, cider, beer and other drinks in stock have been wasted.
However, there is light at the end of the tunnel. The government has announced the easing of lockdown restrictions nationwide, which means businesses in these industries will eventually see a rise in footfall.
What’s more, smart food waste management practices can help them save money and stock up food and beverages for those who would actually purchase them. Here are some ways in which they can ensure more efficient food waste management – with or without the pandemic in the picture:
1. Maintaining a ‘food waste inventory’
Keeping an inventory of which items get wasted can help these businesses take corrective action, such as by ordering supplies at a later date or reducing the amounts they order. Training the food handling staff in food waste management is an essential step in this regard.
2. Donating excess food supplies
With stockpiling becoming almost the norm in the COVID-19 world, many consumers are unable to access what they need, which is where food redistribution on a community level plays such an important role.
For instance, supermarkets can tie up with volunteer apps for food waste collection such as OLIO and Snackpass that collect unused food supplies and distribute them to charities or groups of people who need them in these uncertain times.
In fact, OLIO even launched a #Cook4Kids campaign to inspire the public to cook for kids in their communities for those who are missing out on lunches due to the lockdown. Big names such as Vogue’s Food Editor Skye Gyngell and TV Chefs Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall have come up with straightforward meal recipes to support the cause.
1. Using technology to predict food orders
Having software in place that can forecast the average number of orders, the amount of food needed per order and the quantities of ingredients required based on data they gather in the new service environment they are operating within, will give restaurants more control over their kitchens, their inventories, and the amount of food produced. And this will help them save money that they spent on having the food wasted each year.
2. Composting and recycling
For food items that are past their expiry date, restaurants can consider composting them to create a natural fertiliser and to enrich the soil in their vegetable patches in a bid to reduce food waste.
In addition, plastic and paper items such as food containers and wrappers can be segregated into the appropriate recycling bins (rather than simply being tossed in with the food waste) to make food waste management easier and faster.
1. Turning leftovers into creative new products
When pubs find themselves with extra amounts of food and beer on their hands, they can convert it into new food items for the menu. For instance, leftover grills or steaks can be converted into filling for sandwiches or wraps, while leftover beer can be baked into beer bread and used for sandwiches or bread pudding. This helps reduce food waste and also brings in more cash for the business.
2. Streamlining stock control
An excellent way to reduce food waste is by exercising more control over what foods are ordered, when they are ordered and how they are stored and used. For instance, the food handling team can be educated on ‘first in, first out’ inventory management techniques to make sure that food is used up at the right time.
To help with this, all appropriate food stocks should be clearly labelled with ‘best by’ and ‘use by’ dates, particularly those with a short shelf life.
Don’t waste food, valorise it.
Waste is a fact of life. What most businesses don’t realise is it could also be an opportunity to offset the high energy usage by recycling food waste to energy that they can use themselves! And that can be done via one of our iD-R Compact AD systems on-site.
Whatever type of food waste supermarkets, restaurants and pubs dispose of, Waste2ES has the ability and capability to help consolidate it and/or generate power and revenue from it. Do you want to know more? Contact us.
As the businesses work consciously towards managing food waste in these uncertain times, they can play a seminal role in creating sustainable habits for the future and in helping the community at large get the food they need, when they need it with the help of innovative technologies like Anaerobic Digestion. What are your thoughts?