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National Restaurant Association - Cut food waste; cut food costs

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Cut food waste; cut food costs

Sustainability is becoming center of the plate for restaurateurs looking for solutions to reduce rising food costs, new National Restaurant Association research finds.

According to the 2015 NRA Restaurant Industry Forecast, about seven in 10 restaurateurs who considered food costs a challenge in 2014 said it led them to increase tracking of food waste.

“Restaurant operators are using a range of strategies to deal with elevated food costs, and tracking food waste is one tactic” said Hudson Riehle, the NRA’s senior vice president of research. “The less waste generated as restaurateurs prepare, cook and serve food, the more costs can be controlled. Cutting food waste can also help restaurateurs attract and maintain loyalty among customers interested in sustainability.”

Roughly three-quarters of all restaurant operators reported food costs as a challenge last year, and among those:

  • 78 percent of casual-dining restaurants increased food waste tracking;
  • 74 percent of fine-dining operators did the same; as did
  • 70 percent of quick-service operators;
  • 68 percent of fast-casual operators; and
  • 64 percent of family-dining establishments

“Tracking is a great way to measure and reduce food waste,” said NRA Director of Sustainability Laura Abshire. “Tracking food waste can result in reduced purchasing costs. This is especially important now with commodity prices so volatile and food costs so high.”

Operators who considered food costs a challenge in 2014 also said they’re relying more heavily on local sourcing of ingredients as a way to manage costs. Among those, 67 percent of fine-dining establishments, 49 percent of family-dining operators, and 46 percent of casual-dining restaurants incorporated more local sourcing into the menu mix.

Purchase the 2015 Restaurant Industry Forecast here. Visit the NRA’s Conserve program for more information about sustainability tips and tools, and check out the NRA’s partnership with LeanPath to provide operators with food-waste tracking technology.

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