Foodservice operators can support sustainability in many ways

By Anna Skyttä

Most people are probably familiar with the concepts of sustainability or controlling the climate change, and the awareness on these subjects increases all the time. So far it seems – at least to me – that the media emphasizes the carbon footprint of traffic or travelling, and to some extent the carbon footprint of habitation. The fact is, however, that the environmental effect of food is approximately as big as of traffic and habitation. The Consumer Association in Finland organizes a Food Waste Week every year with the aim of getting the consumers to pay attention to food waste – as the most of it is generated in households – but the professional kitchens play their own role with regards food waste, as well.

There are around 1 million restaurant locations in the United States preparing roughly 200 million tons of food yearly. One quarter of food is wasted in restaurants and other food service operations. This includes food waste generated when preparing food as well as food waste from the leftovers both by the kitchen and by the customers. This means that around 50 million tons of food is wasted yearly in the restaurant and foodservice operations.  When you take that down to a shorter time span, 150.000 tons of food is wasted each day in the United States.

The previously mentioned wastage figures are prone to give you goosebumps, and not only because a tremendous amount of food is wasted, but also in that sense, that the wasted food costs a tremendous amount of money. And at the end of the day, the consumer pays the bill as all the costs are included in the menu prices.

Reducing the amount of food and ingredients wasted is one significant way to reduce the environmental effects of food. In addition, the CO₂ values of the ingredients used have their own effect on the carbon footprint. When producing or preparing food, production planning and the right kind of efficiency support sustainability, as well.


Food waste in the foodservice operations comes just partly from the leftovers on the plates

You could easily think that the leftovers on the customers’ plates is what generates food waste in restaurants but in reality a lot of food waste is generated in the kitchen, for example extra food prepared which cannot be utilized again. So, in the professional kitchen, you should consider your operational policies and how they effect on the amount of food waste. And maybe the leftovers on the plates could be reduced with smaller portions…


Recipes and ingredients generate one part of the kitchen’s carbon footprint

In general we know, that animal based foods have higher carbon footprint than vegetable based foods. However, the role of CO₂ values for individual ingredients is not defined before you build a recipe of several ingredients with the chosen measures. The carbon footprint of a recipe can be at a reasonable level even if it included ingredients with higher CO₂ values, if the amount of them is not too big and the recipe includes more of ingredients with lower CO₂ values. In addition to this, you need to consider the impact of the portion size and furthermore that the role of the CO₂ values for individual recipes most often are not defined before the recipe is part of a meal. So, at the end of the day you end up with menu planning.

A system is an essential tool when calculating CO₂ values for recipes and menus. The CO₂ values for all food ingredients are available in JAMIX Kitchen Intelligence System. The program automatically calculates the CO₂ values for recipes and meals, and it includes comparative values based on the average emissions for different types of meals (snacks, main courses, desserts) which makes it easier to interpret the figures. Not only does the JAMIX system help the kitchen manage their carbon footprint, it also provides the option to publish the CO₂ values of the menu online to the end customers. This enables the customers to make their own choice and influence the carbon footprint of the food they consume.


Menu planning is a tool for reducing waste of both prepared food and ingredients

Menu content and how it corresponds to the customers’ needs is obviously one significant starting point in menu planning. Keeping the amount of different meal options at a reasonable level makes the work in the kitchen easier and it helps in controlling food waste, as well. When planning your menu, in addition to appropriate portion sizes you should consider adapting the amount of portions to the amount of diners expected.

A system is a great tool for menu planning, as well. You can easily update your menu options, if needed, and you can easily change portion sizes and the amounts of portions – and the program will automatically take care of all the essential calculations. You can register information on the sales in the system, and utilize that information when planning future menus. The unique Food Bank functionality in JAMIX Kitchen Intelligence System enables you to manage food that is prepared in advance in the system. The program takes the quantity registered in the Food Bank into consideration and calculates automatically how much food needs to be prepared in addition to the food that is in store. All these functionalities help you in optimizing the amount of food to be prepared and further control the wastage of prepared food.

The system calculates a shopping list based on the menu and together with inventory management functionalities helps in optimizing the amount of ingredients to be ordered. You can register traceability information in the system and monitor for example the use by dates for the items in store, which helps in preventing food waste caused by outdated items.


Support sustainability with production efficiency

Running production efficiently saves time and money but efficiency is related to environmental friendliness, as well. In addition to time and personnel, unefficient operations can use too much ingredients or energy.

A system makes the work in a professional kitchen easier and more efficient. The unique Mobile Recipe in JAMIX Kitchen Intelligence System enables the handling of recipes in production for example on a tablet instead of a traditional printout on paper. You can print all the recipes including instructions with the chosen amount of portions with the production sheet functionality. And here printing means also printing on the screen, so it is possible to work without any paper. When the instructions are clear and the quantities accurately calculated, you can prepare the food efficiently and you will have the right quantity of it.


State of Restaurant Sustainability

Read more on restaurant sustainability in the United States on a report by the National Restaurant Association.


Sources used in this post:

National Restaurant Association

The Guardian


Kitchen management system supports sustainability and provides answers to consumer needs


At present, efficiency in the foodservice industry is a major problem. Estimates show food waste totaling 63-million tons per year across the supply chain, amounting to roughly 218-billion-dollars in waste.


Sustainability is a hot topic in the foodservice business, as well

– The food service industry is one of the largest employers in the United States as a whole. Everything we do has an impact on so much that takes place, states Certified Master Chef Ron DeSantis. Food waste starts way down at the beginning of the food string. How we order things, what we order, are we using enough technology to help us see what the menu mix is, and order the right ingredients for the amount of food we need to prepare.

– Sustainability has to do with reducing and preserving or recycling resources. If we are able to protect the resources anywhere through the production and distribution and service of the food to the consumers, we’re impacting overall the environment and the economy in a significant way, explains Rafi Taherian, Associate Vice President, Yale Hospitality.


Consumers want information and transparency

The industry is also faced with evolving consumer demands. With concerns about diet and nutrition, food allergies or sensitivities, and sourcing of ingredients, consumers want want transparency in the food they consume.

– Consumers are aware of food through social media and other outlets, so they can see what’s going on in food and people want wholesome ingredients. We can track the boat that a fish came from, we can track vegetables back to their origin to the farmers. No matter what it is there are people behind all of this, making these foods for us on a daily basis. So that kind of transparency is very important. And I think it’s great for the industry across the board, reflects Ron DeSantis the current trends.


Technology provides benefits to restaurant operations comprehensively

– The food industry for many years relooked at the technology for better communication, better planning and better process efficiencies. We are using technology not only to gather information but to also create predictability of future performance. So technology has become a key aspect of operational needs, states Rafi Taherian.

Thanks to advances in technology, kitchen management systems now enable managers to have more control over food production, providing data for restaurants and their customers.

JAMIX is Finnish software company which has been developing and making software for professional kitchens for almost 30 years now.

– We have created a complete, versatile and dynamic software which can be used by any kind of restaurant or restaurant chain, tells Mikko Jaatinen, CEO JAMIX Inc, and continues:

– We have a totally web based system which is supported by apps which we can give to mobile phone users in the kitchen and take everyone on board to using the system, which is so easy to use with this modern technology. It is not just a tool for the managers, it is everyone’s tool in the kitchen every day.

– If you go to any supermarket today, you see more and more people looking at the labels – they are interested in what is in their food. You have to have that information in normal food you buy in the supermarkets. We provide that same data through our system to anyone who visits a restaurant. The ingredient list of a recipe, allergen information and dietary requirements. In addition, the program calculates automatically calories and other nutrients based on the recipes, explains Jaatinen the benefits of the software system.

Jamix software also calculates the carbon footprint, that is the CO2 value of recipes.


Managing items is easy with a restaurant management system

The restaurant inventory and management procurement software helps businesses manage all items easily in the system. It can automatically create purchase orders based on a menu and can then calculate quantities to be ordered, according to what is needed.

JAMIX software is also used in Kay’s Kitchen restaurant chain in Ireland. Bart Glover, Director of Kay’s Kitchen appreciates the benefits for their business:

– JAMIX software gave us the ability to price a plate of food and then be able to link that with back of house. To be able to control the quantities that we are buying.

Allowing recipes and menus to be managed by site, by chain, or by concept, provides the headquarters with control over costs and quality of food served throughout the chain.

– The JAMIX MOBILE allows senior staff members, like chefs and managers to make decisions on the spot, immediately. You can order inventory from our suppliers without having to go to fax machines or sending emails or making telephone calls, it is instant control, explains Bart Glover.

– JAMIX for me is the right type of kitchen system. By having the information there – recipes, ingredients, building menus, inventory control, tracking cost, having the real-time cost from purveyors come in – those are all tools that I can do to manage waste, to manage production and control energy usage. Everything comes from that ability, the right kind of technology. Having it centralized, for me is a very important tool and very important part of what the future of the food service industry is going to be about, summarizes Ron DeSantis.

With 30 years of experience within the foodservice industry, JAMIX continues its mission to make work in the restaurant kitchen easier.


JAMIX was featured in an episode of Innovations with Ed Begley Jr., broadcasted on October 27, 2018 on Fox Business channel. Innovations is an award-winning television series hosted by actor, director and environmentalist, Ed Begley Jr., and is dedicated to bringing viewers the most up-to-date, cutting edge information across a vast array of industries. From health and wellness to global business, renewable energy, and more, Innovations features practical solutions and important issues facing consumers and professionals alike. More information:

Reducing Food Waste will save you money and make your environmental footprint smaller

by Tuulia Heiskanen, Trainer

Food is thrown away every day in households, restaurants and the industry as well as already at the producers. You probably throw away large quantities of food yearly yourself, without even noticing it. Most of this food waste is a result of both unmade plans, but also of not following the plans that have been made. When you cook food in advance for more than one day, as you often do, you might end up eating something else the next day just out of an impulse. After a while, the ready made meals or untouched out-of-date packs are on their way from the fridge into the garbage bin. So there is a place for improvement.

I looked at some statistics on food waste and on the impact it has. Here are some figures:

  • One third of all food produced is lost or wasted (Source: FAO)
  • 150.000 tons of food is wasted each day in the United States (Source: The Guardian)
  • Households are responsible for almost half of the food wasted, but restaurants and other food service operations build up a notable 25 % share, as well (Source: Statista). Food waste could be avoided by better forecasting, or by preparing and storing food in another way.
  • Food that is produced for nothing puts a load both on the economy and the environment. Environmental effects are huge: the carbon footprint related to food waste is almost as big as the road transport emissions globally (Source: FAO).

Food waste is something that we most probably cannot get rid of completely, but it is clear that there is a need to reduce it.


New goals and legislation planned for reducing food waste

Fortunately the excessive amounts of food waste have been noticed in the past couple of years. The UN Sustainable Development Goals include cutting down food waste in half on the retail and consumer levels by the year 2030, as well as significantly reducing food waste within the whole production-distribution chain. Reaching the goals requires functional tools for continuous monitoring and reducing of food waste. Reaching the goal set by the UN, that is cutting down the food waste in half in a decade’s time, requires involvement from each food producer, business, retail store, restaurant and consumer.

Legislation needs to support the reduction of food waste. In France there is a legislation that forbids tossing food in retail stores and restaurants. Legislation really should be revised: The other day I heard from the radio that a part of food goes to waste already at the producers. This is caused almost solely by too strict quality standards for products: If the appearance of an item is not according to the standard, it doesn’t qualify to be sold in a store and it gets thrown away.

In addition to legislation, you need to educate people both at home and at work places, and provide tips and tools for reducing food waste. In Finland the Consumer’s Union has taken a grip on this and the national Food Waste Week is being arranged yearly in September. The campaign aims at encouraging everybody in reducing food waste and at the same time increasing the appreciation of food by providing information and practical tips. The campaign welcomes businesses and organizations as partners, and JAMIX has also been participating the Food Waste Week for several years now.


Restaurant management system helps in reducing food waste

As mentioned before, the lack of planning or the lack of systematic practises cause a major part of food waste. This applies both to households and to restaurants or other food service operations. Just implementing a kitchen management system with basic functionalities often already results in reduced food waste. But you can also maximize the benefits of the system with regards food waste by exploring it more extensively, and utilizing all the functionalities provided.

JAMIX KITCHEN MANAGEMENT system provides a great menu planning tool along with procurement management, which together aim at the best possible match between the amount of prepared food and the sales or consumption. The amount of diners and the portion sizes are easy to plan on the menu, and the program will automatically calculate the right amounts for recipes to be produced. The program creates a shopping list based on the menu, so you will have the exact need for ingredients for producing the meals on the menu. When you compare the list to the existing inventory, you will avoid ordering excessive amounts of ingredients which could end up in wastage.

In JAMIX software, you can also register the sales and wastage on the menu. This enables you to check the figures next time you are producing the same recipe, how much was produced for a certain amount of diners, how much was consumed and how much was left over. This makes updating of portion sizes on the menu easier. You can even let the program update the portion sizes automatically based on the sales and wastage registered in the system.

In addition to well executed menu planning, the inventory management functionalities in restaurant management systems and separate HACCP systems support food waste management. Inventory balance monitoring and inventory-take are useful tools in preventing out-of-date items from ending up in wastage, and by setting par levels for items you can prevent excessive ordering.

Customer feedback is another good tool for preventing food waste. Through collecting feedback either with a restaurant management system or otherwise, by listening to it and taking it into consideration in menu planning you can both increase your sales and prevent food waste.

By not producing food for nothing, or by not having out-of-date items to be tossed away, has an impact on the environment as well as on the costs for a kitchen. Ingredients are the biggest individual cost for a kitchen in addition to labour costs, and by forecasting the amount of food to be produced as precisely as possible and by monitoring the wastage you will quickly gain savings. The reduction of food waste might be pushed by legislation in the years to come, so it is worth while to start giving it a thought already now.