Understanding seasonality is key to trimming food waste

With the modern supply chain being the near-miraculous thing it is, seasonality is less of a concern for restaurants than it historically has been. No longer are restaurants restricted to berry-based dishes in summer and root vegetables in winter – now, ingredients can be efficiently transported around the world in a matter of days.

However, seasonality does still matter. While today’s food supply chain is remarkably efficient in many ways, there is still room for improvement to tackle the mountain of food waste our world produces.

UN data shows that around a third of food produced across the world is wasted. 17% of all food available at consumer level – which includes the restaurant and takeaway trades – ends up in the bin. This waste is responsible for 8-10% of global greenhouse gas emissions. As the climate crisis continues to grow more severe, there are many things our industry can do to make a difference. One of them is to improve our understanding of seasonality, and what it really means in the 21st century.


Thriving in summer

It’s not just ingredients that thrive in certain seasons – your restaurant probably does, too. Summer months tend to be the busiest for the foodservice industry as generally warmer weather and an increase in tourism – at least in cities and coastal hot spots – means more people are out and about looking for refreshments and food.

While the warm weather brings with it some delicious fresh summer fruit and veg, it also brings an increased risk of that food spoiling if it isn’t stored properly. To make matters worse, the increased footfall means many businesses may be tempted to overbuy ingredients.

Problems with out-of-season produce can still persist in winter. While the modern global supply chain means countries like the UK can still access ingredients like lemons and oranges even in the winter, these fruits often have to be imported from further afield in the winter months. This means the window in which they can be used will be shorter out of season – something that a restaurant must compensate for with proper storage.


Overcome winter lulls

Just as summer is a busy period for many restaurants, the winter season is traditionally something of a lull. Cold weather means some consumers will be less inclined to venture out for a meal, and footfall will likely be lower.

This can be overcome by pivoting to offer a collection or delivery service which, thanks to learnings and digital infrastructure that developed during the pandemic, is now more viable than ever. Apps like Deliveroo and Uber Eats will even take care of the delivery process (for a fee), meaning the only thing restaurant businesses need to consider is how to pack the orders they receive.

Incorporating a small amount of Aluminium foil into this packaging is a great way to ensure orders stay hot while waiting for a courier or the consumer to arrive and collect their order. This can help reduce waste in the form of damaged or rejected orders, protecting profit margins at a time when they are sorely needed.


Make the most of seasonal produce

A balanced approach to seasonal and out-of-season produce can help liven up menus while also reducing food waste.

Seasonal produce can be locally sourced, which means it can be reliably ordered in smaller but more frequent quantities to reduce the risk of overbuying. This also reduces the amount of emissions the produce is responsible for during transit, as its journey from farm to fork is much shorter.

When complemented with out-of-season ingredients, this can unlock new possibilities for a tastier, healthier, and more exciting menu. Seasonal produce arrives in the kitchen at just the right time, meaning your dishes should be more flavourful. It also adds a sense of novelty – a point-of-differentiation that can attract consumers who don’t want to miss out, as they know seasonal fruit and veg aren’t around forever.

Again, proper storage of fruit, veg, and even locally-sourced meat and fish can help keep that seasonal window open slightly longer by preventing it from spoiling. A small amount of cling film or Aluminium foil around an ingredient will isolate it from the rest of the ingredients in a fridge or freezer, helping to prevent microbial cross-contamination and preserving food for longer.

Whether you need to keep hot food warm for a few minutes before it’s collected, or chilled food preserved and fresh for a few extra days, our range of cling films, foils, and professional-grade dispensers can help your kitchen reduce waste. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help.

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