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The effects of Covid-19 have stretched far and wide, and with the fragility of the industry revealed, it’s become clear that there is room for a more sustainable system. At the start of lockdown there were reports of dairy farmers being forced to throw away perfectly good milk because the majority of cafes and restaurants were closed and cheesemongers slashing prices to get rid of fresh produce.
As the country eases out of lockdown, cafés, shops and restaurants have reopened and the runup to Christmas begins, tackling the issue of food waste and creating a sustainable system remains a priority. Jamie Crummie, co-founder of Too Good To Go, explains, “Whilst food waste continues to be an issue that we are fighting in our bid to tackle climate change, one thing is clear: the solution lies in our own hands. By coming together during these challenging times, the food and drink industry has the ability to make an impact and ensure that food waste is, one day, a thing of the past.
“With many independent businesses starting to plan for the festive season, it’s important that they also do their bit to reduce and prevent food waste.”
Adjust Christmas ordering
One of the most effective ways of keeping waste to a minimum is to rethink the approach to ordering. It can be tempting to want more than is needed, but changing to ordering less but more often helps keep track of what’s staying on the shelves.
Jamie advises indie producers and retailers that taking “A more agile approach to stock management can ensure that supply doesn’t outstrip demand.” He adds, “Keep open communications with your suppliers by ordering less, but more often to provide a better indication of what is and isn’t selling. This allows your business and your suppliers to respond quickly. Ensure the higher frequency of your ordering habits reflect and cater for busy days such as Saturdays or Thursday when late night shopping starts.”
Be savvy with storage
WRAP is a not-for-profit organisation that works with Government, businesses and communities to accelerate the move to a sustainable economy. Its ‘Guardians of Grub’ campaign helps the hospitality and food service sector to reduce their carbon impact and food waste. With more food leaving the kitchen during the Christmas rush, it’s the key time to be aware of how much is going to waste. One of the key tips from WRAP is to be be smart about storage:
1. Storing newer items at the front to ensure that older items are used first.
2. Labelling new supplies with the date as they come in.
3. Use airtight containers or cling film to keep ingredients fresh – or freeze them.
4. Look at how leftovers can be utilised in new dishes.
5. Freeze and defrost meat in batches.
In this day and age technology such as food waste apps are there to make life easier, as well as more efficient, so it’s worth embracing it.
Jamie explains, “Technology ensures that fighting food waste can be simple, cost-effective and time efficient. There are plenty of tools at your disposal that can easily integrate into day-to-day operations. Food waste apps are a great example here. They can offer a safety net when balancing supply and demand, so that if produce has not sold for one reason or other, it can still find a route to market and go to a good home - whilst recovering otherwise sunk costs for your business.”
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