Olive Catering Services, a Midlands based contract catering company, has been trialling Avery Weigh-Tronix’s intelligent waste management solution, TraceWaste in one of their Birmingham restaurants. The restaurant provides a breakfast and lunch service, catering for an average of 100 hungry workers every day. The waste management system has been designed to help reduce food waste by daily analysis of surplus and discarded food, highlighting areas of over-production and where some meals could benefit from portion reduction.
Food waste analysis
Configurable to the kitchen requirements the restaurant chose to analyse food waste in three categories: meal production, the preparation of food; meal preparation, portioned food ready for sale; and customer waste, leftover food discarded after each service. The system was set up to display a list of the daily food items from the menu on a touch-screen display. At the end of the serving all customer waste is collected in bins and weighed and the weight data is stored in the TraceWaste database. The same process applies for any unsold food and any food that was discarded in the preparation process.
Restaurant server Keith Machin uses the system daily. Keith commented “the system is very simple to use and easy to navigate. After a few minutes of training, it’s now second nature to use the system as part of our daily service”. Keith explained that prior to the system being installed; a daily wastage report was manually filled in on paper to show an estimated amount of portions of food thrown away after each service.
Fast, automated data collection
“The paper process was time-consuming for us and estimating the number of portions left over after each service was subjective to the staff member filling out the form. In the new process, we simply add the waste to the food bin which is located on the Tracewaste scale, choose the appropriate food type from a list of options and then save the weight. The process takes just seconds and we know it is an accurate representation”.
The simplicity and process efficiencies provided by the solution are just the start; the real benefits come from the data that it produces, as Chef Manager Vanessa Sheppard explains. “The results have been eye-opening, the system has been on trial for 2.5 months and in this time we have recorded over 270kg worth of food waste. Based on our average portion weight this means we are throwing away 3 out of every 20 meals every day.”
The data TraceWaste collects transfers in real-time to a PC system which produces configurable reports based on daily food wastage by date, product category or service (in this case breakfast/lunch). After analysing the wastage through the data reports Vanessa continued, “one thing that stood out immediately was the same food types being regularly thrown away, we have been able to adapt our menu and now make certain items to order rather than letting them go to waste.”
Having seen benefits within weeks of install Vanessa is now keen to see the changes she has implemented, impact on the data over the coming months. “The solution allows me to see trends in our food wastage and has prompted me to rethink our menu, reduce portion size and adapt the amount of food prepared on certain days of the week which regularly had high wastage.”
Food-waste reduction and corporate social responsibility
Olive catering works hard to embrace its mission statement, “to be the Independent Contract Caterer of Choice”, striving to meet client challenges which often include ISO 14001 and effective waste management. The introduction of the TraceWaste solution gives the opportunity for caterer and client to work together to reduce food waste, providing a cost saving on waste disposal for the client and a reduction in preparation costs for Olive Catering Services.
Mark Tilbury, Operations Director said, “As a company who are environmentally aware of the impact of waste, TraceWaste is helping to support our CSR efforts to minimise our environmental impact through food waste reduction”.