The Growing Problem of Food Waste – and How JustKitchen is Tackling it
Approximately 125 to 160 billion pounds of food goes to waste every year in the US alone, most of it perfectly edible food that could be used to feed the hungry. It’s a growing problem all over the world, especially in developed economies where we tend to take the availability of high-quality food for granted.
In 2019, it was reported that Asia produces over 50% of the world’s food waste, with China, Japan and South Korea contributing 28%, and South and Southeast Asia generating 25%.
Yet a more mindful approach to food waste could make a huge difference – it’s estimated that reducing food waste by just 15% in America would provide enough sustenance to feed more than 25 million people annually. According to Food Navigator, the amount of food wasted in China alone could feed 100 million people.
Uneaten food that ends up in the garbage is also harmful to the environment, as it wastes valuable resources like water and farmland, clogs up landfills, and ends up in oceans and rivers where it can disrupt delicate ecosystems.
Taking the Restaurant Industry to Task
At JustKitchen we are well aware of the mounting global issue of food waste – after all, restaurants are one of the world’s biggest contributors to it. US restaurants generate an estimated 22 to 33 billion pounds of food waste each year. In China, restaurants account for the majority (approximately 19%) of the 17 – 18 million tonnes of food wasted every year.
In many cases, poor kitchen management and inventory tracking are to blame – other contributors to food waste at restaurants include errors during preparation (for example, over-cooking), improper storage, over-stocking of ingredients, and failure to use food scraps and trimmings.
It’s estimated that approximately 4-10% of food purchased by restaurants is wasted before it even reaches the consumer. From a corporate perspective, wasted food can also be detrimental to a restaurant’s bottom line – scraps of wasted food can add up very quickly.
For these reasons, at JustKitchen we are tackling the issue of food waste by implementing several key strategies to address factors that contribute to it. These strategies include:
- Data tracking of customer orders allows us to monitor and accurately predict the popularity of certain items and predict peak ordering times, which facilitates accurate inventory management.
- Carefully designed kitchens and recipes, as well as highly effective training programs, serve to reduce the instance of kitchen errors such as over-cooking.
- Our proprietary OSTM software provides actionable insights on day-to-day operations of each kitchen, including live reporting and analytics, allowing us to carefully track and monitor food waste.
- Refrigeration units that store items for our online grocery delivery platform serve to supply our spoke kitchens in the instance that a particular ingredient runs out. Any fresh, over-stocked ingredients that are not likely to be used immediately in hot meal preparation can be sold on our online grocery delivery platform as well.
As a result of these strategies, JustKitchen has consistently achieved a very low food waste rate of less than 1%.
Reducing Waste and Providing Sustenance
Beyond reducing our food waste, JustKitchen is also giving back to the communities we operate in by buying ingredients from under-served farmers in local communities. These farmers often struggle to scale their business, and end up selling their product to larger food suppliers at a discount, which results in lower profit margins. JustKitchen is buying items such as rice and produce directly from local farmers, cutting out the “middle man”, so that farmers can retain more of their earnings.
We are also seeking to increase food accessibility for low-income communities by actively participating in several community outreach programs. We recently partnered with Taiwan’s People’s Food Bank Association to donate and deliver 600 meals to low-income communities throughout the month of May. In addition, during the month of June, JustKitchen partnered with the Zenan Homeless Social Welfare Foundation to donate and deliver hot meals to elderly homeless individuals, from June 14th – June 30th.
As we continue to expand into new territories and countries, we plan to continue these initiatives and others, in order to help give back to the communities we operate in. We believe that to make the food industry more sustainable, every bit counts.