4 Reasons to Reduce Food Waste in Your Restaurant | Fora Financial Blog
4 Reasons to Reduce Food Waste in Your Restaurant
June 14, 2018

4 Reasons to Reduce Food Waste in Your Restaurant

As one of the largest private sector employers in the United States, the restaurant industry goes through billions of pounds of food every year while generating billions of dollars for the economy.

All that food isn’t purchased by consumers, however. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), an estimated 30 to 40 percent of the food supply at restaurants and homes combined goes to waste.

Food waste not only has a direct impact on the environment; it can also have a negative effect on your business. In this post, we’ll review four reasons why you should try and reduce food waste in your restaurant.

1. You’re Wasting Money on Inventory You Don’t Need

The freshness of food is a top priority in the restaurant industry. It’s a large part of what helps establish and maintain customer loyalty. If you’re a restaurant owner, however, you’re likely aware of how much food waste ends up in the dumpster every evening.

In the same study mentioned before, the USDA determined the amount of uneaten food at homes and in restaurants is valued at $390 per customer. That number doesn’t just affect the customer — it influences your business as well. You’re wasting money on inventory that your restaurant isn’t using and that ultimately, you don’t need. Tracking inventory and readjusting your restaurant’s needs can help reduce both food waste and overhead expenses.

2. You’re Overspending on Under-Purchased Inventory

Tracking inventory to determine the ingredients that are (and aren’t) needed can take time. After reviewing the numbers, you may see a pattern of overspending on under-purchased inventory.

Unpopular or out-of-season menu items could be contributing factors to this problem. Monitoring these patterns and switching up the menu to reflect your restaurant’s needs can both surprise and satisfy your customers, while also ensuring that your business remains profitable. At the end of the day, it’s about knowing your regulars and anticipating what they want!

3.You’re Missing Out on the Profits of “Smaller Portion” Appeal

While everyone likes a good “buy one, get one free” deal, it’s important for you as a restaurant owner to be aware of how portions affect your expenses.

In a separate report by the USDA’s Economic Research Service, researchers found the estimated cost of food waste was $161.6 billion in 2014. To help reduce those overall numbers, consider each meal as its own expenditure and the amount of food on each plate. Then, look at how many consumers either leave half their meal on the plate or take it home, where chances are it will get thrown out anyways.

Reducing unnecessary overhead costs should be a priority for you as a restaurant owner. With excessive portions, you might as well be packaging up money and sending it home with your customers. Again, consider adjusting your menu and portioning items to avoid unnecessary costs.

4. You Have a Direct Impact on the Environment

 As a part of the industry that generates nearly a trillion dollars in annual sales, your restaurant truly has its fingers in the economic pie that represents the U.S. Making small changes in the way your restaurant operates and knowing the needs of your business can impact and help grow the economy. In addition, it can also have an impact on the environment. According to NPR, food waste from restaurants makes up for 15 percent of all the food waste in landfills. When food begins to spoil, it turns into the greenhouse gas methane, whose potency directly contributes to climate change. Being aware of the environmental impact your restaurant has is beneficial, as more and more American businesses are joining the green movement.


Operational changes like adjusting your menu and reducing overhead costs by tracking inventory can help your business stimulate the economy and the environment at the same time. It can also be better for your restaurant’s finances, as you save money on necessary inventory and gain from the profits of smaller portions. Instead of continuing to waste money, try and reduce food waste in your restaurant, the economy, and the environment.

Fora Financial

Editorial Note: Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author's alone, and have not been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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Fora Financial is a working capital provider to small business owners nationwide. In addition, the Fora Financial team provides educational information to the small business community through their blog, which covers topics such as business financing, marketing, technology, and much more. If you’d like to see a topic covered on the Fora Financial blog, or want to submit a guest post, please email us at [email protected].
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