Technology May Help in the Fight Against Food Waste
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Technology may help restaurant operators cut down on food waste and thus, improve their financial situation, according to recent research from American Express. In fact, restaurateur operators are optimistic about a digital future, as 65% plan to make a tech investment within the next year.
The 2017 American Express Restaurant Trade Survey, which is based on a survey of over 1,000 Americans, found many restaurant owners believe technological innovation will help combat food waste and provide better local ingredients. Key findings include:
- Nearly half of restaurant owners and managers (48%) believe food waste is impacting their restaurant’s bottom line, and nearly all are taking measures to reduce it.
- With the excess foods, 38% of owners are re-purposing ingredients or offering special menu items.
- To reduce waste, 61% are re-evaluating their inventory, 59% are training their staff and 53% are monitoring portion sizes.
- Nearly half of restaurants (44%) are using local ingredients, while 15% are planning to and 24% are considering doing so.
Local ingredients and eliminating food waste are important to diners as well. More than half (56%) think it is important for restaurants to use locally-sourced ingredients. When it comes to wasting food, most diners (83%) ask to have their food wrapped, so they can eat it at home. Customers seem a bit more leery about restaurants serving leftovers, as only 27% said they would order a meal composed of leftover ingredients. Millennials are more likely to embrace this idea (39%) than Gen Xers (24%) or Baby Boomers (19%).
The survey also found people are more likely to post a picture to social media of their food than their date. 16% said they would post a photo of their meal or drink, while only 9% would post a picture of the people with whom they are dining. Most restaurant owners believe this sort of social media interaction has a positive impact on their business (83%), and many use Facebook (85%) and Instagram (46%) to promote their business.
American Express also examined how many restaurants are turning to automated customer service technology, such as digital kiosks or table-side ordering. Currently, only 7% are using this technology, but that number is expected to grow to 26%. Currently, most diners (75%) prefer traditional waitstaff to digital customer service, but perhaps not surprisingly, Millennials are more likely to prefer digital platforms (39%).