Restaurants are losing up to $26,000 to food waste, research reveals

Restaurant owners in the US have admitted to losing up to $500 a week, in research by Alto-Shaam

Almost a fifth (16%) of restaurant owners are sacrificing substantial losses above the reported median, at over $20,800 annually per restaurant.

In the survey where 57% of operators estimated that they throw out between 100-500lbs of food in an average week, restauranteurs shared the top reasons for food waste*: 1. customer plate waste (54%), 2. spoilage of fresh food that has a short shelf life, (49%), 3. demand fluctuations (48%), 4. inaccurate portioning (38%), and 5. inconsistent cooking causing burnt or unusable products (36%).

For large food chains, some of which have over 40,000 restaurants across America, these losses could amount to between six hundred million and one billion dollars each year.  

This highlights the urgent areas of operation, from customer behavior to kitchen responsibilities, that restaurant owners and managers should look to examine and therefore adjust. 

Currently, 83% of commercial restaurant owners and purchasing decision-makers in the US are either exploring or already implementing strategies to reduce food waste in their kitchens. With the most common initiatives currently being prioritized**:

  • Employee training – 44% 
  • Creative use of leftovers – 40% 
  • Food waste tracking software – 37% 
  • Sustainable sourcing – 36% 
  • Regular menu audits – 35%

A Recycle Track Systems report found the restaurant industry spends an estimated $162bn every year in costs related to wasted food. As the hospitality industry continues to struggle financially, this further highlights an opportunity for American restaurants to be making savings from revised food waste reduction strategies. 

Lucy McQuillan, president of Alto-Shaam comments: “It’s great to see most restaurants are taking commendable steps to implement strategies aimed at reducing food waste, while navigating the complexities of our current tough and unpredictable economy.”

“However, our research shows that foodservice equipment itself could help accelerate operators’ waste reduction goals.  It is crucial that leaders of our industry consider innovative ways to help operators reduce their food waste, allowing them to financially benefit from such strategies and therefore better navigate the challenging economic conditions currently being faced.”

To read Alto-Shaam’s full report and discover professionally recommended methods to reduce food waste and improve profitability, visit:

Recycle Track Systems report:

For more information about Alto-Shaam, visit: