How to limit real and theoretical consumption discrepancies ?

You predicted a theoretical material cost of 30%, but the actual cost is 32%. Why? Because the difference between actual and theoretical consumption levels impacts your material cost. How can you close the gap on these variances ?

Florent Boulanger

Florent Boulanger


Jul 2023

How to limit real and theoretical consumption discrepancies ?
In this article :

Today, more than ever, restaurants are looking for ways to optimise stock management to reduce material costs and cope with inflation. By carefully analysing your stock levels, you can identify the discrepancies between what should have been consumed and what was actually consumed, known as yield variances. If the actual cost of your foodstuffs is higher than expected, here are six ways to bring it down :

1. Reduce food waste

There’s always a portion of food that’s wasted; such losses occur at different stages of raw material transformation.

Ingredient losses may be due to:

  • Expiration of best before dates due to overstocking of an overordered ingredient.
  • Ingredients that fall on the floor or are accidentally burned, which is called breakage.

Finished product losses can be due to:

  • Mistakes in the kitchen, where the chef or waiter made an error in the order.
  • Poor anticipation of products to be prepared in advance, such as intermediate products to speed up the assembly of dishes in fast-food restaurants, or finished products for window displays in sushi restaurants or bakeries.

All these items count as losses, as do finished products if they can’t be sold through an anti-waste application at the end of the day.

An average loss rate is generally around 2% of turnover. If your losses are higher, your supplier ordering process isn’t optimal and you need to take action. At Inpulse, we’ve created the first artificial intelligence platform capable of automating restaurant supply management. With our solution, you order just what you need at the right time. You can supply your restaurants or bakeries on a just-in-time basis, limiting losses and improving cash flow management.

To ensure ultra-precise raw materials management, we also advise our customers to use the FIFO (First In First Out) method, where foodstuffs in refrigerators are classified to ensure the shortest best before dates are used first in the kitchen.

2. Respect portions on recipe cards

Replicating a concept is what makes restaurant chains successful: the dishes are calibrated and consistent. But if there’s no means of control, the operational reality can be very different from the objectives set.

"We have a food cost to meet, we rationalise all our dishes so we have the same proportions in our restaurant in the 13th and the 10th arrondissements. Inpulse lets us keep an eye on material costs. I look mainly at meat, which accounts for around 30% of food costs,” says Kamal Zaoui, founder of Luks Kebab. He also points out that “One of the main causes of consumption discrepancies is the failure to follow recipes.”

There is often a discrepancy between the portions specified in established recipes and what’s actually used in the kitchen. To compensate for this, restaurant chains are introducing systems to measure the most expensive ingredients at the time of assembly or cooking.For each concept, the right measuring tool or system must be found that won’t slow the pace in the kitchen. Some chains favour utensils such as ladles or plastic measuring cups, while others allow meat packaging, for example, to be carried out by the supplier or the central kitchen to ensure that the perfect portion is weighed beforehand.

3. Identify discrepancies with regular inventories

Only by having a clear view of your stocks can you limit discrepancies; to do this, you need to carry out regular inventories. We recommend that our customers set up:

  • A weekly inventory for strategic and high turnover products.
  • A monthly inventory for all products.

Regular feedback from the field is key to identifying discrepancies in consumption. It also has other beneficial effects. 

For one thing, it makes teams aware of their raw material consumption and the importance of inventory management.

It also helps reduce the rate of goods theft, known as leakage. It is one of the main causes of discrepancies. Few official statistics exist on the subject, and it seems difficult to avoid when you have a high turnover rate. Establishments that fall victim to theft are those that have little to no stock control.

Implementing a stock management tool has a dissuasive effect on teams, as inventories are more regular and unusual stock movements are quickly spotted.


4. Set up an incoming goods procedure

Even if your supplier is well-intentioned, there are many reasons why the quantities delivered and the prices invoiced may not correspond to the order form: different cut of meat, product unavailability, temporary shortage, substitute product in the event of a shortage, unforeseen price changes, etc.

Missing products? You’ll need to place a last-minute replacement order at a higher price. 

Defective products? If the wrong item is delivered and inspection isn’t made on receipt, you’re increasing your losses by accepting products you can’t use. Credit note claims are also easily lost on paper, an amount that can add up significantly over the course of a year.

Inpulse offers a fully digitised incoming goods control module to: 

  • Check that the quantity delivered corresponds to the quantity ordered.
  • Automatically generate credit note requests to suppliers.
  • Match supplier invoices with quantities delivered.

You'll considerably reduce errors and overpayments, and save precious time in managing credit note requests. 

5. Simplify price list updating

Price lists are used to define product prices and availability, which are likely to change regularly and have an impact on consumption variances.

  • Prices

If price lists aren’t updated, the gap between theoretical and actual food costs may widen, as the value of the stock of goods is based on obsolete data. When price updates aren’t synchronised with market fluctuations, the discrepancy will increase in value. 

  • ‍Product availability

If the availability of products is incorrectly indicated when an order is placed, the manager won’t receive the desired products. He will have to place an emergency order at non-preferential rates. These malfunctions increase the cost of the raw materials consumed, and therefore the difference in consumption value.

With a purchasing data centralisation tool like Inpulse, updates and information transmission are simplified.

6. Declare known losses

All consumption must be recorded for accurate stock monitoring. With Inpulse, four categories of loss (breakage, expiry, staff meals and promotional offers) can be entered into the tool to accurately monitor stock variations.

Staff meals, which are often omitted, must be declared to ascertain whether these losses are consistent with network policy, e.g., one dish per service per employee.‍

With comprehensive restaurant monitoring software like Inpulse, you can report losses of raw and finished products. It lets you see any unusual losses and get a true picture of your stock levels.

To go further

More than 2,500 restaurants and outlets use Inpulse every day