(Blogger’s Note: This is the first of two articles on food donations and profits.)
With more than 6 million tons of food being dumped annually it’s time to seriously analyze your purchasing procedures and your perishable food policy.
Whether you know it or not you significantly contribute to the wasted tonnage while tossing away profits and charitable deductions.
Operating a strong and profitable business depends on constant reconciliation, especially when employees have a free hand to spend your money. Every restaurant owner reconciles their checkbook. We all look at the credit card deposit report reconciling credits, debits, charges and interest. But, we tend to trust the food to revenue reconciliation to the chef. And, frequently he empowers the sous chef, who passes the responsibility on to what’s-his-name and somehow a food cost report gets generated. On occasion.
Food waste eats into profits before your very eyes and seldom do we pay attention to the damage tossing food does to our bottom line. It is profit eliminator. It’s easy to over-purchase yourself out of business. It happens very quickly if you are not paying attention to what is coming in the front door and being tossed out the back. And although we all contend with dumping food and produce, planning a conservative ordering procedure can alleviate a majority of waste. Donating allows a charitable contribution deduction on yearly taxes which could assist in building a better bottom line. Plus, when all the perishable food is in one area, you can view the reality of the waste.
During my first trip to the Pasadena Claim Jumper in 1997 I was amazed at the size of the portions the mammoth plate chain was serving. They garnished the plate back then with a whole apple. The chain has since stopped the ridiculous practice. And although the size of their portions has decreased, they are still large enough to feed a family of four in
Restaurant waste has long been one of the primary reasons loss wins over profit. A careless or inexperienced chef who does not have the ability, talent, or knowledge to order correctly can wipe out monthly profits with one week’s worth of careless ordering. Misjudging nightly business, overestimating weekend business, and not taking into account T.V. specials, holidays, sporting events, and weather are all mistakes that throw your restaurant orders off track.
Plus, shelf life and product rotation are other factors that need to be analyzed when developing menus and nightly specials. In many restaurants the nightly specials are the freshest item on the menu. However, in other restaurants nightly specials are products that need to be sold, quickly, before they are donated.
Although it appears the majority of single-unit operators do not participate in food donation programs, many corporate chains make donations mandatory for their properties if there is a regional charity accepting the donations.
For area Starbucks, community donation programs across the country are not a mandatory store procedure but are encouraged if there is a local charitable organization accepting food donations. Daily, the coffee giant’s pastry cases are cleared out, placed in plastic containers and donated to a local charity that actually sends a representative to pick up the food.
Many regional charitable organizations have volunteers ready to pick up your donations. Plus, the daily donations will enable you to see exactly what you are over ordering, what you need to alleviate, and what to put on your menu as a daily special.
Not only will donating food help the needy, but will help your bottom line.
Tomorrow: Ten tips on cutting food waste and increasing deductions.