Technology May Help in the Fight Against Food Waste

Technology May Help in the Fight Against Food Waste

May 22, 2017         Written By Lynn Oldshue

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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:

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  • 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%).

The information contained within this article was accurate as of May 22, 2017. For up-to-date
information on any of the terms, cards or offers mentioned above, visit the issuer's website.


About Lynn Oldshue

Lynn Oldshue has written personal finance stories for for twelve years. She majored in public relations at Mississippi State University.
View all posts by Lynn Oldshue