Introduction and objectives
The prevention of food waste at the consumer level depends on several boundary conditions and individual parameters. In household kitchens, the specific waste quantities differ depending on parameters like the household size, demographic and socio-economic characteristics. In gastronomic kitchens, the specific prevention potential depends on aspects such as menu planning, produce specifications, guest numbers, degree of convenience, production efficiency, kitchen type (single kitchen, central kitchen) and the catering system (sous-vide, cook&serve, cook&chill, cook&freeze, cook&hold). Therefore, the derivation of actions towards an improved food management requires in many cases a quantification of food waste at place, considering the individual boundary conditions. The objective of our research was to develop digital measuring methods to quantify food waste, allowing the derivation of measures towards an improved food management.
Within our research, we applied the method of self-reporting in a gastronomic context in addition to existing operational waste management systems. For the experimental setup, we developed a software application connected with an electronic scale to automate the self-assessment process (see figure 1). This offers the possibility to document disposals directly at source and to offer a real-time feedback of the wasted food for the user. Additional to the recording of the quantities, institution-specific complementary parameters are stored in a separate database. The simultaneous access of valuation parameters such as costs allows a direct monetary assessment of the wasted food. This digital measuring method contributes to raise the awareness of the kitchen staff on the one hand and provides important information for an optimized food management on the other hand. The connection to ERP (Enterprise Resource Planing) and accounting systems is an important aspect towards a semi-automated system optimization. We installed this waste management tool in several gastronomic facilities and collected food waste data to derive individual actions of prevention. In the meantime, we are developing a smartphone application of this monitoring instrument in order to enable a larger usage of this application. The real time tracking of current operations allows flexible decision-making processes and offers dynamic planning parameters to optimize resource management and production processes.
Within the oral presentation, we will give a brief insight in the findings of our research, showing different aspects regarding digital measuring methods to quantify food waste in gastronomic kitchens. Further, we discuss measures contributing to an improved food management and a prevention of food waste. Through demand-oriented menu planning, food production as well as adapted portion sizes and serving quantities, significant savings were achieved. The amount of food waste in the pilot restaurants reduced in most cases, showing a clear improvement compared to the status quo.