Strategies to reduce your food waste

According to a report from the Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO), global food wastage per year is approximately 1.3 billion tonnes, which is roughly a third of the food produced in the world for human consumption. On a more local scale, waste in UK restaurants is approximately 1.6 million tonnes per year with around 600,000 tonnes of this being food. Breaking this down: 30% is from plate waste (customer leftovers); 5% from spoilage; 65% from prep waste (food not used after preparation).

Why exactly is this such a problem? Firstly, global population is on the increase with 10 billion people expected by around 2050. Therefore demand will be significant and without an increase in supply prices will rise. Added to this, climate change has the potential to create further difficulties in food production as extreme weather events such as droughts and floods will lower crop yields. Together, these issues could have disastrous consequences on food security leaving millions starving.Attempting to address this problem may seem daunting however, there are strategies restaurants can implement to contribute to reducing food waste.

1.Utilise preparation waste for the creation of other menu items. For example, SiloBrighton utilises broccoli cores in the creation of one of its dishes.


2) Offer a greater range of portion sizes or encourage the use of doggy bags for your customers.

3) Calculate and monitor your “actual wastage” with the help of vigilant stocktaking. For example, by connecting menu items with their ingredients i.e. the cheese burger needs 1 beef patty, 2 buns, a slice of cheese and pickle etc. When you take the dishes sold and multiply this by the recipes of each menu item you get the “theoretical usage”. When you do the stock count you can work out the “actual usage”. Minus the “theoretical usage” from the “actual usage” and you get “actual wastage”.

For simplicity:
Theoretical usage = Total dishes sold x individual recipe items
Actual usage = Ordered food items — remaining food items
Actual wastage = Actual usage — theoretical usage

The difference between the theoretical usage and actual usage will typically come down to:

  1. Portion sizes being bigger/smaller than defined in the recipe. More training of the kitchen team can help improve this.
  2. Items that are free and therefore not entered in the till (eg: staff meals or deliveries from third parties). To be able to identify the cause of the waste, it’s important to make sure that these are entered in the till and discounted to zero so that they are counted as part of the theoretical usage.

4) Buy and prep the right amount of food each day. This may seem like an obvious point to make but it is actually a very difficult task to get right. This is because there are a large number of variables which will affect your sales for any given day for example seasonal variations, overall growth trends as well as local weather and events.

Technologies are now available to accurately forecast sales, from the store level right down to the individual item level taking into account the previously mentioned variables. Tenzo has this capability by utilising cutting edge machine learning algorithms (or artificial intelligence). This technology has a proven track record of reducing food waste. Click here for more information and if you’re interested in a demo you can sign up here.


At an individual level these contributions are quite small, however, collectively (across all restaurants) they are huge and can have a significant effect on food prices and sustainability. For inspiration, here is a list of the most sustainable restaurants in the UK. Have a look — you may get some great ideas!

To learn more about reducing your restaurants’ food waste visit the Too Good to Waste Campaign run by the Sustainable Restaurant Association.

Case Study: A story about Tenzo & Upham Group

About Upham Group

The Upham Group has refurbished and opened numerous superb pubs and inns across the south of England, where you can taste all of the Upham Brewery beers on draft and enjoy fabulous meals every day of the week.

Upham Group are passionate about making great pubs and inns that people love going to. Since 2012 they have been giving a new lease of life to some wonderful pubs in the south of England. They believe the ingredients are finding great pubs with character, in wonderful locations, sympathetically restoring them to give them a fresh start and then adding a mix of great staff, drink, food and atmosphere to create somewhere that people love to meet, eat, drink and sleep.

Upham Brewery on Southampton

“Definitely the best roast beef dinner we’ve ever had.” —Steve L on Tripadvisor

“I can honestly say that Sunday lunch roast in the Thomas Lord was far and away the very best pub lunch we have ever eaten, and I would unreservedly class it as excellent. It has a great atmosphere and efficient friendly staff.” — Purdeysboss on Tripadvisor

Why they use Tenzo

Upham Group faces the same daily struggles than in any business in the hospitality sector. Robb, chief financial officer of Upham Group, mentioned some of their daily struggles as being:

  • Assess the performance of the staff
  • Insure the consistency of service
  • Respond to clients on their feedbacks (social reviews) to maintain the customer loyalty
  • Give autonomy to the manager of each of the sixteen locations
  • Quickly collect accurate and reliable data from their pubs

They decided to use Tenzo to gather and analyse data as well as having better insights as to the performance of each pub. After a few months of using Tenzo, the main benefits which they underline were:

  • Analyse sales by product item (ex: fish & chips, burgers…)
  • Have access to data that was impossible to see in the POS
  • The ease of access allows to save time and money and to make changes in their menu, opening hours, employee’s schedule…
  • Better forecasting of their sales which causes a better control of stock

“ I would absolutely recommend Tenzo to friends and colleagues in the hospitality sector” —Robb, CFO of Upham Group

Watch the video testimonial