February 4, 2021

5 KPIs to help you reduce food waste

Avoiding food waste completely is nearly mission impossible. Ending the day with unsold items or discarded ingredients is not a sign of business failure. It’s part of the food service business and, specifically, part of being quality, safety and customer focused. Obviously, the intention is to minimize it wherever possible. Part two of our food waste blog series looks at setting smart KPIs, complemented by digital food waste management with Chefstein®.

Food waste management chopping

Food waste, whether it’s rooted in the storage, food preparation or serving area of any kitchen’s operations, can and should be managed. As the daily operations of the kitchen become more sustainable guests feel good about choosing to dine at a venue that contributes to food waste reduction, staff feel empowered to make an impact, and ingredient costs are reduced.  

Food waste management based on real-time data

food waste management restaurant menu

Managing food waste relies on measuring amounts of food waste, types of ingredients or portions wasted, anomalies, and progress. Such data can not only be used to monitor and track, but it should also be used to make informed business decisions. These can include menu development, customer segmentation, forecasting and training needs.  

This is the second set of tips in our food waste management blog series. The question we address is: what are the most important items to set as KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) to manage food waste in your kitchen?

Below are some ideas, provided by the Fredman in-house Chef de cuisine, Ville Parkkinen. Our earlier food waste management blog story provides Ville’s food waste tips for recipe management.  

Ville Parkkinen, Fredman Chef de cuisine

1. Create time-bound food waste reduction targets collectively

Involving the entire kitchen team in a shared quest to reduce food waste can be extremely empowering and productive. Everyone can take ownership of making an impact on a globally meaningful cause. Knowing how to maximize food waste prevention through collectively agreed ‘areas of impact’, where everyone knows their role, is motivating.  

  • What are the specific responsibilities of food waste reduction for the chef, ordering, purchasing and other kitchen staff?  
  • What is the frequency for collective reviews of the food waste reduction and impact within each area?  
  • How do you reward the team for achieving the targets (in a sustainable way)?

2. Set targets for stock rotation rates

Stock rotation rate is a key profitability measurement for at food service business. It plays a major role in food waste management, too. Look at your stock management and rotation from a food waste reduction perspective and set measurable targets for food waste generated in storage.  

  • Can you reduce the number of items stored by looking at your order list; when was it last updated, do packaging sizes match with demand?  
  • Are you following the FIFO (First In, First Out) principle rigorously?  
  • Can you combine delivery dates so that it is easier to arrange your storage based on FIFO?

Before deliveries, arrange your cool storage so that the newest items go to the back and the oldest items are automatically used first.

3. Monitor storage temperatures systematically

To maximize food safety and minimize food waste, pay attention to two things inside the critical cool storage appliances: keeping fridges clean (clean them once per week) so ingredients can be stored correctly without contamination risk; and ensure appliances are set at exactly the right temperatures so that the risk of food waste is minimized alongside energy consumption.  

  • Who is responsible for cleaning and monitoring the cold storage appliances?  
  • What about the ingredients inside?  

To make it easier for everyone involved in recording temperatures for self-monitoring purposes, assign the task to an automated kitchen management solution*.  

4. Analyze trends or anomalies in waste-generating items and act!

  • Do certain ingredients generate more food waste than others?  
  • Do certain menu items end up in the bin more often?  
  • Are there peaks in weekdays, service times or shifts where the amount of food waste is higher or lower?  
  • Are there food preparation techniques that should be addressed, such as ways of chopping (see pepper image)?  

Use these types of data to analyze the need for changes such as training and menu updates.  

5. Benchmark and share learnings between different sites

Food waste fluctuations in real-time, gathered by Chefstein®, offers useful insight for seasonal food waste trends analysis.

For a chain restaurant, it is extremely fruitful to compare results and analyze any variations across sites in order to drive shared learnings. Good items for cross-business food waste monitoring and management could include amounts of food waste in kilograms per person, as well as trends in food waste management at different sites.  

Comparing identical, real-time data is an efficient way to identify potential causes, best practices and variations in customer behavior that could explain alterations. Sharing such learnings is key to making knowledge-based improvements to existing processes, aiming at food waste reduction and overall efficiency. Changes are easy to make as examples and results from the same chain business exist.

Chefstein® by Fredman is a holistic, digital kitchen management solution that takes food waste management to the next level. Real-time knowledge gathered through its Smart Scale feature automates food waste management. It compiles and compares food waste data such as the total amount (kg) of food waste generated, the amount of food waste (kg) generated per customer or the amount of food produced versus amount wasted (see image below).


Placed underneath existing waste bins the Chefstein® Smart Scale wirelessly tracks food waste and monitors how and why food is being wasted so that prevention becomes easy to manage. Chefstein®’s Food Waste dashboard provides data for creating knowledge about actual food waste in the kitchen that helps strategize toward a smarter kitchen.


*Book a free Chefstein® demo to see how it could work with you to take care of your kitchen management needs (including food waste management).


For practical food waste management tips around recipes, read the first story in our food waste blog series here.

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