With more cities and counties up and down the country entering Tier 3 and 4 restrictions, restaurants, pubs and hotels are yet again forced to work out what to do with the mountain of stock and fresh produce that will be wasted. As UK Hospitality Chief Executive recently stated before London’s recent move to Tier 4, “as with previous short-notice lockdowns, this is going to cause a glut of wasted food and drink,” because hospitality businesses cannot “just turn on and off”.
Whilst changing Tiers and their resulting restrictions is out of your hands, having a clear picture of your inventory is always helpful at any moment in time, so that you’re able to quickly work out a clear plan of action to minimise all avoidable waste. And as lockdown measures are eased and re-imposed over the next few months (as is sadly inevitable), customer demand for stock items will continue to fluctuate, so knowing what you have in-hand has become more important than ever.
Our in-house stock and order experts have put together some top tips to help you reduce stock wastage and improve profitability over the coming months:
1. Stock ordering policy
Make sure you iron out your inventory and ordering policy and brief relevant team members. This includes establishing who’s in charge of ordering, what food items can be re-ordered (if you are open for takeaway), and when they can be re-ordered. If you have an integrated purchase-to-pay system in place, then an easy way to do this is by adding an approval structure within your system.
2. Understand what stock you hold
Ensure you have complete knowledge of what stock you hold at all times, as it allows you to prioritise which products are at most risk of going out of date or have the highest value. This will help you to identify ways to save your stock. For example, could some of your highest valued food products be frozen? Or could your stock be transferred to another site that are operating in tier one or two? These are all ways to help you educe food wastage and ultimately cut costs in the long run.
3. Find out which orders have been placed
Find out what stock orders have been placed and see if they can be cancelled. This may seem pretty obvious, but when you’re trying to manage all aspects of closing your restaurant this can easily slip one’s mind.
4. Adapt your food offering
Why not consider readjusting your sales mix and bundle some of your food items together to increase sales. For example, if you’re open for takeaway or are offering a click and collect service why not offer an extra side or starter, or if they spend over a certain amount offer them a free dessert. Whilst your overall margin and profit percentage will be less, you’ll still bring in more cash. It’s better to get some cash for your stock, even if it’s less than what you have paid for it, than to throw it away and get nothing for it at all.
5. Rotate your stock
Prior to the Coronavirus, WRAP estimated that 21% of restaurant food waste was due to food spoilage, so make sure you keep on top of your stock rotations by ensuring your oldest stock is utilised before its use by date. This will help you cut down the number of items going out of date and therefore waste.
6. Close your beer lines
Make sure your beer lines are shut properly as you don’t want to come back to beer that’s gone off or spoilt in the lines as this will increase wastage. This allows you to focus on what really matters – getting back up and reopening!
7. Donate to a good cause or charity
Sadly, despite the very best of efforts, there will inevitably still be wastage –especially if your business has no choice but to close completely during the pandemic. According to our latest GO Technology report with CGA, 60% of consumers are more likely to use a brand that donates spare food to charity. So, rather than simply throwing good stock away, why not consider giving it to charity, a local food bank or other good cause. There are plenty of fantastic organisations such as Too Good to Go who would be incredibly grateful for the support.
For more tips on how to reduce stock wastage and improve your profitability, don’t hesitate to get in touch with our in-house experts.