Food waste in restaurants: reduce, measure and analyze losses

At the beginning of July, the European Commission announced plans to impose a 30% reduction in food waste from shops, restaurants and households by 2030. Food waste is at the heart of these concerns, so find out more about strategies to curb it.

Clément Renard

Clément Renard


Jul 2023

Food waste in restaurants: reduce, measure and analyze your losses | Inpulse
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According to Eurostat figures, one tenth of all food consumed in households, restaurants and shops ends up in the garbage can, representing around 131 kg of food waste per capita and an estimated total loss of 132 billion euros by 2020*. Tons of waste end up in the garbage can, and although a significant proportion comes from household consumption, losses in restaurants are substantial.

In the catering sector, Ademe's figures are just as edifying, with losses averaging 230g per meal and per customer, representing an average material cost of €0.5 per customer. Significant losses of purchased raw materials occur both when goods are purchased, when dishes are prepared, and when they are served to customers. 

Inventory of food losses in the foodservice industry 

The Ademe study shows how losses are distributed across the various stages of the raw material processing cycle: of a total 27% of losses measured in commercial catering, 12% are products that have gone out of date or are spoiled before preparation, 4% are products that have been prepared but not eaten, and 11% are leftovers**. 

The fight against food waste is one of the government's many priorities. Legislation is on the way to curb this phenomenon, but let's take a look at some concrete strategies that can already be put in place to take action today.

What does the law say about food waste in restaurants?

Adapting our practices to evolve in a sustainable world is a mandatory course of action for everyone. The world of catering is just as concerned, all the more so as the legislation governing its practices is constantly evolving. Several laws have been passed to this end, with increasingly ambitious objectives:

  • Law on energy transition for green growth (17/05/2015), known as LTECV: initiates food waste reduction logics in public catering.
  • Loi Garot (11/02/2016): completes the LTECV on the aspect of stores over 400 m2 and the donation of unsold food that is still consumable.
  • EGALIM law (30/10/2018): extends, among other things, existing anti-waste measures to private catering. And from July 2021, restaurateurs are obliged to offer a "doggy bag" for food scraps.
  • Anti-waste law for a circular economy (10/02/2020) known as AGEC: reinforces and accelerates anti-waste objectives on all scales, particularly with regard to bio-waste. In the catering sector, to achieve a 50% reduction in food waste compared with 2015 by 2025. The law defines the threshold at which biowaste must be recycled, i.e. sorted and treated by appropriate channels via composting or methanization (gas production via decomposition). From a threshold of 120 tonnes of biowaste or 1,500 L of used oil per year in 2012, a threshold of 5 tonnes of biowaste per year has been in force since 01/01/2023. The final stage is the elimination of the threshold on 01/01/2024, when all restaurants and private individuals will be required to recycle their waste. 
  • In early July, the European Commission announced plans to impose a 30% reduction in food waste from shops, restaurants and households by 2030.

So, what does it mean to reduce bio-waste? Let's give a clear definition of what biowaste is.

What is biowaste or food waste?

According to Article L. 541-1-1 of the French Environment Code, they are defined as "Non-hazardous biodegradable garden or park waste, food or kitchen waste from households, offices, restaurants, wholesale trade, canteens, caterers or retail outlets, as well as comparable waste from food processing plants." This includes leftovers from meals or meal preparation, or uneaten products that have expired. They come in 3 types: 

  • Used oils
  • Coffee grounds
  • Food biowaste: peelings, expired products, broken cold chain, leftovers, etc. 

How to reduce bio-waste?

The current inflationary context shows that the foodservice industry is heavily impacted by the rising cost of raw materials and foodstuffs in general. Controlling the amount of biowaste or food waste generated by your business is therefore a key lever for managing your raw material costs and profitability.

As a restaurateur, adapting your practices and limiting bio-waste means respecting the objectives set by the AGEC law and controlling your profitability! It's as much an ecological problem as an economic one.

1. Better anticipation to avoid losses

Better inventory management helps to limit losses, and to do this you need to be able to anticipate future sales. At Inpulsewe offer a solution based on artificial intelligence that enables sales to be forecast according to the many factors that influence them: weather, calendar events, sports events, religious holidays... These recommendations help restaurateurs to secure their supplies, so they can order exactly what they need. Each order recommendation is made on the basis of AI forecasts and the calculation of the forecast stock required to cover future sales without wastage.

2. To reduce, you need to measure

Tracking food losses is the starting point for limiting waste and reducing costs. Accurate stock forecasting reduces the risk of stock-outs, and enables you to order as accurately as possible. In addition to taking inventory, forecast stock depends on the following factors:

  • Upcoming order receipts
  • Stock transfers completed
  • Forecast consumption
  • Reported losses

3. Analyze to find the cause

Identifying the causes of these losses is necessary to improve your operations, and implement preventive or corrective measures in the field, such as redesigning work areas, training, vigilance when receiving goods, reducing fraud... Losses can be categorized as follows: 

  • Expired products: use of products without verification of use-by dates, on orders...
  • Products rendered unfit for consumption: poor management of perishable goods, failure to respect the cold chain, breakage, etc.
  • Remainder when preparing dishes: non-optimized preparation methods, approximate cutting...


Example: In a sushi restaurant, we find that 10kg of salmon have been used in excess if we compare the technical specifications of the makis. This represents an overconsumption of 25%, and is due to the expiry of a batch that was thrown away. Tracing the loss of this 10kg batch means understanding where the overconsumption came from, so that I can adapt my management operations to ensure that it doesn't happen again. 

It's essential to be able to eliminate uncertainty about its yield spreads when they are abnormally high. 


In addition to mandatory measures, the AGEC law seeks to instill a better way of managing resources. With this in mind, we at Inpulse to measure and analyze losses on two levels:

  • Supplier ingredients: to manage raw material stocks (expiry, breakage, etc.).
  • Finished goods: to manage unsold goods and the associated opportunity costs (sales not generated...)

This feature enables you to visualize any unusual losses and act quickly to limit food waste in your restaurants.

*Le Figaro: The EU wants to tackle food waste, with binding targets for 2030

**Ademe: Food losses and waste: the current situation and their management at each stage of the food chain

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