Food for Thought: Food Waste Reduction

By Rauni Kew Public Relations & Green Program Manager, Inn by the Sea | August 02, 2015

The growing counterculture to food waste is so wide spread the Associationís annual Whatís Hot List placed food waste reduction right behind hyper-local sourcing in their Top Twenty Trends.

Food waste is a global problem, but 40% of the food produced right here in the US goes uneaten according to a 2012 National Resources Defense Council (NRDC) report. Waste has been on a steady rise since 1970 when the US wasted about 50% less food. So why did so many restaurant chefs choose to draw attention to food waste now?

Chefs have always focused on using up product. Running an efficient kitchen just makes economic sense, and since food is the second largest cost after labor, wasting food greatly impacts restaurantsí bottom lines. However, the 2015 Chef trends recognized this moment in time where locavores rule, trash fish dinners and root to stalk menus are the new chic, and where diners are as acutely interested in taste as they are with their health and the health of the planet. Couple timing with growing foodie tourism and consumer interest in novel culinary experiences, with the important economic and emotional role food service plays in hotels, Chefs now see value in finding creative solutions around reducing food waste.

Lasting Impressions Through Hotel F&B

Captivating hotel cuisine can be just that - captivating your guests with a positive perception of the hotel and creating a favorable and lasting impression through great F&B operations. F&B can be a propertiesí most powerful marketing tool. Resorts, boutique and luxury hotels in particular can tailor menus and ambiance to capture a sense of place, add substance to PR and marketing platforms, and sustain and grow a brand narrative. Hotel menus can easily adapt to culinary trends, seasonality and keep pace with changing guest expectations without requiring huge capital expenditure. Restaurants are profit centers, with F&B being the second largest revenue source after room sales for full service hotels. As the cost of sales for rooms escalates due to marketing and OTA charges, F&B operations have become even more important as profit centers.

This ability for a hotelís F&B to easily adapt and keep up with travel and consumer trends may be one of a hotelís strongest marketing tools. But should F&B be concerned with food waste issues? Surveys show hotel guests overwhelmingly feel properties should take care of the environment. In the Conde Nast Traveler 2011 survey 93% stated travel companies should be responsible for protecting the environment, while 90% of travelers surveyed by TravelZoo in 2010 would choose a ďgreení or environmentally conscious hotel if price and amenities were comparable to a non green hotel.

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Human Resources: Value Creation

Businesses must evolve to stay competitive and this is also true of employment positions within those organizations. In the hotel industry, for example, the role that HR professionals perform continues to broaden and expand. Today, they are generally responsible for five key areas - government compliance; payroll and benefits; employee acquisition and retention; training and development; and organizational structure and culture. In this enlarged capacity, HR professionals are no longer seen as part of an administrative cost center, but rather as a member of the leadership team that creates strategic value within their organization. HR professionals help to define company policies and plans; enact and enforce systems of accountability; and utilize definable metrics to measure and justify outcomes. Of course, there are always new issues for HR professionals to address. Though seemingly safe for the moment, will the Affordable Care Act ultimately be repealed and replaced and, if so, what will the ramifications be? There are issues pertaining to Millennials in the workforce and women in leadership roles, as well as determining the appropriate use of social media within the organization. There are new onboarding processes and e-learning training platforms to evaluate, in addition to keeping abreast of political issues like the minimum wage hike movement, or the re-evaluation of overtime rules. Finally, there are genuine immigration and deportation issues that affect HR professionals, especially if they are located in Dreamer Cities, or employ a workforce that could be adversely impacted by federal government policies. The March Hotel Business Review will take a look at some of the issues, strategies and techniques that HR professionals are employing to create and sustain value in their organization.