Of all of the disadvantages of inefficiencies in kitchen management, none has a bigger negative environmental and economic impact as food waste. Discarded foods end up in landfills, contributing to pollution and global warming and resources and energy used to grow and manufacture the food also contributes significantly to our carbon footprint.
The most significant way that food tech is affecting the amount of food waste is through creating better inventory management systems.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates that 30 to 40 percent of the food supply in the US is made up of food waste and about 133 billion pounds of food from stores, restaurants and homes was wasted in 2010. In an effort to combat this environmental impact, many food technology advancements are geared toward reducing food waste.
The most significant way that food tech is affecting the amount of food waste is through creating better inventory management systems because whether it is a personal or professional kitchen, food inventory is one of the most difficult aspects to manage. In a survey among more than 200 independent and chain restaurants, Oracle Hospitality and Technomic found that 60 percent of restaurants do not use a forecasting system to improve purchasing, which is a big culprit of food waste.
As most food products are perishable, poorly managed food inventory will spoil and will go to waste. With busy schedules and overload of work home cooks and chefs aren’t necessarily to blame. Without technology, inventory management is a long process and spending an average of five hours per week managing inventory and placing orders, is a luxury chefs and kitchen managers can’t afford. Until recently, there haven’t been efficient and affordable tools available to assist in this laborsome process.
One company making a wave in reducing food waste through better inventory management in the home is Innit. By using sensor technology to take an count of food stock in the home and creating recipes based on that stock, Innit is making it easier for home cooks to know exactly what ingredients they have and how to utilize those ingredients to make tasty food. This technology reduces food waste by getting people to utilize food before it goes bad, so that it is not thrown away.
Restaurant apps that help consolidate back of the house management also have systems in place which make inventory more visible, manageable and easier to track. Therefore, food is not overlooked or over ordered. Kitchen managers and chefs have clear data about what stock they have and what stock they need in real-time, so that they can make more smart and informed purchases. This means significantly less waste which leads to a significant reduction of global food waste.
As technology tracking food storage and inventory becomes more fine tuned, food will be better managed and controlled, which is crucial in our attempt to manage our food purchases and food use. As we have better data and inventory of our stock, we can make more informed decisions and make better choices for our homes, businesses and ultimately our environment.