As consumer demands for sustainable food practices increase, more and more retailers and foodservice operators are finding ways to reduce their environmental impact.
We’ve seen this recently with the movement to ban plastic straws in 2018 and the rise in plant-based meat popularity in 2019. Many retailers and foodservice operators have adapted quickly to these types of changes and taken other steps to not only lessen their environmental impact, but also boost efficiency and profitability.
Yet as the industry look for ways to incorporate sustainable practices – particularly, reducing food waste – one key ingredient to both sustainability and overall business viability needs to remain top of mind: food safety.
Minimizing food waste while maximizing food safety
Reducing food waste is a hot topic for our industry, and for good reason. Roughly one-third of all food produced in the world is being wasted, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. An analysis from ReFED shows that around 40% of food waste is generated by consumer-facing businesses, such as restaurants and retailers.
According to a recent sustainability report from the National Restaurant Association, one of the top trends impacting menus is food waste reduction. The report also found that around half of diners say they consider establishments’ efforts to recycle and reduce food waste when choosing where to eat.
Beyond meeting consumer demands, there are financial incentives for retailers and foodservice operators to invest in waste-reduction practices. According to the Food Market Institute, the U.S. retail food sector loses $18 billion a year in lost value from food waste. One study found that restaurants save on average $7 for every $1 invested in kitchen food waste reduction practices, thanks to reduced purchase costs, increased revenue from new menu items developed from leftovers and lower waste management costs.
To reduce food waste, operators are taking measures such as tracking how much they throw away, donating leftover food and composting. As kitchens introduce these new processes, it’s critical that there is are strong, foundational food safety practices to minimize potential risks.
Here are a few ways foodservice operators and retailers can incorporate food safety into their waste reduction efforts:
Sustainability is only growing in importance, presenting new challenges and opportunities for the food industry. That’s why organizations like the Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI) are so critical as a way to collaborate and share information with each other – and ultimately, deliver safe food to consumers worldwide.
At Ecolab, we’re excited to help our customers and the food industry continue to evolve and grow to ensure we can continue to deliver food in a safe, sustainable way.
- Adam Johnson, Vice President and General Manager, Global Food Retail Services