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Today, Champions 12.3 released the highly anticipated report The Business Case for Reducing Food Loss and Waste: Restaurants. The Valentine’s Day release is timely. Champions 12.3 hopes to bring attention to the issue of kitchen pre-consumer waste on one of the busiest restaurant days of the year.
Restaurants are a good place to focus food waste reduction efforts since they generate a relatively large amount of wasted food – and not just on Valentine’s Day. According to a report by ReFED, restaurants and other consumer-facing businesses account for 40% of food waste in the United States by weight, the second highest contributor after individuals. Results from The Business Case for Reducing Food Loss and Waste: Restaurants reveal that restaurants can successfully and profitably reduce their kitchen waste.  Below we highlight key findings from the study.
About the Study

  • Results from this study are based on an analysis of data from 114 restaurants in 12 countries.
Successful Intervention Methods
  • Measure how much and where food is being wasted so managers can prioritize hotspots to tackle and monitor progress over time.
  • Ask employees for ideas when developing and implementing kitchen waste reduction methods and embed the importance of food waste prevention into standard training and operating procedures.
  • Adjust purchasing practices and focus on scenarios that lead to overproduction.
  • Repurpose excess ingredients creatively to generate revenue.
Financial Gain
  • The average benefit-cost ratio for food waste reduction was 7:1 over a three-year time frame.
  • The average site saved more than two cents on every dollar of cost of goods sold (COGS).
  • The food waste-reduction programs implemented by the surveyed sites were relatively inexpensive in terms of absolute dollars spent. The total investment in food waste reduction for all was between $10,000 and $20,000 over the three-year period.
Food Waste Reduction Achieved
  • Over a 12-month period, the average restaurant saw a 26% reduction in kitchen food waste (by weight).

The Business Case for Reducing Food Loss and Waste: Restaurants is the final report of a three-part deep dive series by Champions 12.3 analyzing the benefits of reducing FLW at consumer-facing businesses.
In order to access other restaurant-relevant resources on reducing food waste (including those highlighted below), we recommend searching for the  ‘restaurants’ tag in the filter column at Further with Food. The National Restaurant Association also has restaurant-specific resources at and ReFED Restaurant Action Guide (referenced above), created in conjunction with the Association, at the Further with Food website.    


The Business Case for Reducing Food Loss and Waste: Restaurants

New research on behalf of Champions 12.3 finds a robust business case for restaurants to reduce this inefficiency. The first-of-its-kind analysis of 114 restaurants in 12 countries found that nearly every company achieved a positive return, with the average site seeing a 600 percent return on investment. From making relatively simple changes in supply ordering to better engaging staff, the restaurant sector can reduce waste while saving money.

The State of Restaurant Sustainability 2018

This report by the National Restaurant Association details the results of a survey of 500 restaurant owners and operators about their environmental efforts and sustainability opportunities and challenges within their operations. More than 1,000 consumers also were surveyed about the best methods for restaurants to promote sustainability practices to customers.
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Webinar: The Business Case for Restaurants to Reduce Food Waste

World Resources Institute
February 14, 2019


Waste Expo: Food Recovery Forum

Las Vegas, NV
May 6 -9, 2019
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