Food Waste Solutions for Grocery Stores and Restaurants


Across the world, 800 million people suffer from severe malnutrition. About 36 million of them die from lack of food. Contrast this to the huge amount of restaurant food waste, as well as food waste in stores and at home.

Discover some food waste solutions for professionals and home chefs alike, and learn how Ready. Chef. Go! cook-in bags and boxes can help.

Why It’s Imperative to Reduce Food Waste

Mushroom Medley RecipeWhy do we need to reduce food waste? Every year, about one-third of the food produced in the world is thrown away. Some experts think that number may even be as high as one-half.

When food is thrown out, the energy and time used to produce this food is also wasted. With the world population continually growing and food prices expected to rise, it’s imperative the world works together to get food waste under control.

At home, we can work on our food habits to reduce waste. Larger entities (such as farmers, distributors, and food retailers) can also address this issue and have a huge effect on reducing food waste.

Food Waste Solutions for Stores and Restaurants

Restaurants and stores can consider these areas for optimization or improvement of food waste:

  • Evaluate storage, cooling, and operations
  • Sell “ugly” or “wonky” produce
  • Donate surplus to charity

Evaluate Storage, Cooling, and Operations

Depending on the food type, it can require one or more stops before it’s sold to the consumer. These stops might be additional processing or a distribution location.

During this time, improper handling or temperatures can cause the food to deteriorate, leading to up to 20 percent loss in developed countries (up to 40 percent in developing countries).

It’s difficult to control rough handling of food that leads to bruising, spillage, and so forth. However, it is possible to evaluate the age and condition of storage coolers and freezers to ensure they’re operating at peak condition.

Another food waste solution is through technology. Logistics and inventory management software are constantly evolving, so investigate how new or updated software can improve food’s freshness.

Discount “Ugly” or “Wonky” Produce

Developed countries are notoriously picky about the visual appearance of fruit and vegetables. One report estimated that 20 percent of food is thrown out because it doesn’t meet restaurants or retailers extremely high standards.

The jury is still out on whether customers will regularly purchase flawed produce. However, food retailers can certainly encourage them by discounting less-than-perfect fruits and vegetables.

Divert Surplus Food to Charities

To help reduce food waste, several large grocery store chains are working to establish communications and systems with food charities to send them their surplus food.

With fewer staff, smaller stores and restaurants might find this food waste solution difficult to implement. However, even if it can’t be done on a large scale, every little bit helps!

Food Waste Solutions for the Consumer

Here are a few things consumers can try at home to reduce food waste:

  • Understand packaging dates
  • Trim produce sparingly
  • Buy only what you need

Understand Packaging Dates

Unless you work in the food industry, it’s confusing to come across these types of dates:

  • “Best by” date which indicates when the food will have its best flavor/quality.
  • “Use by” date is for the retailer and indicates how long the food should be displayed for sale.
  • “Sell by” date is the last date recommended to experience the food at its peak quality.

None of these dates have anything to do with food safety, yet many consumers believe that they do, so they throw out food when the date has passed. Of course, this leads to more food waste.

Trim Product Sparingly

Along with throwing out up to 30 percent of their fruits and vegetables, one study found that consumers also tended to trim produce up to 33 percent. This may be due to not knowing which parts are edible and which are not.

It’s not always intuitive when looking at, say, a Brussel sprout, to know if you can eat it in its entirety. One way to prevent excessive trimming is to learn what parts are edible and what are not.

Searching online for “how to prepare [produce name]” is a good start. You’ll also discover that the discarded parts of fruits and vegetables can be used in smoothies, soups, and other recipes.

Another reason why parts of produce get discarded are because of the skin. Some skins are not good to eat because of toughness or taste. However, if the skin is edible, it’s to your benefit to eat it because of the additional nutrients it provides.

Buy Only What You Need

Families get the most value out of buying in bulk simply because they have more mouths to feed. However, if you live alone or as a couple, and you’re tempted by a great price to buy in bulk, consider how much you can eat before it spoils.

One alternative is to carefully freeze what’s left over. For example, you could freeze bananas for later use in smoothies. You can freeze leftover vegetables for soups and stir-fries. But this strategy works only if you’re good about regularly eating out of the freezer.

RCG Can Assist with Food Waste Reduction

At RCG, we’re proud to play a small but important role in helping retailers and consumers reduce food waste.

  • Food retailers - When you sell meals-on-the-go in RCG packaging, you help consumers avoid purchasing more ingredients than they need for their own recipes.
  • Consumers - When they purchase ready-to-heat meals in RCG packaging, they are buying just the right amount of food for their needs.

RCG allows consumers to reduce packaging waste, because the very same cook-in bags and boxes are used for food prep, merchandising, cooking/heating and consumption.

Get Shoppers Hooked on the Meals-To-Go Experience

We hope to someday drastically reduce food waste, whether it’s in restaurants, retail, or the home. Would you like to play a part in this? Let’s talk about how you can use RCG cooking bags as a distributor or grocer. Shoppers love the convenience, and you’ll love a new revenue stream!