Greene King drives down costs in pub chain

Efforts to reduce food waste at one Greene King pub have driven such compelling results that the implications for kitchen management and procurement could be huge if the approach is scaled on a group level.

Branocs Tree Hungry Horse pub in Essex, which is part of the Greene King group, took part in an eight-week trial to actively monitor and reduce food waste. By using a smart meter to measure food waste, the establishment aimed to identify savings and reduce the amount of food being thrown away.

A Winnow Solutions smart metre to measure food waste was installed in the kitchen to track both kitchen waste and customer plate waste. The system linked digital floor scales, for the food waste bin, to a tablet computer. This allowed food waste to be quickly weighed and categorised by selecting icons on the tablet touchscreen. The process was simple for staff to use and took just seconds for each transaction.

This weight data was linked to cost information to calculate the ‘true cost of food waste’ for Branocs Tree. Data was transmitted to a remote server and analysis undertaken to produce daily and weekly reports for the company to assess. These reports were provided to the site manager showing waste weight by category (absolute and per cover); waste value (absolute and as a percentage of sales); and suggested waste reduction improvements for discussion and action.

Weekly calls were also made to discuss the data and the improvement opportunities. By using this information, the site manager and head chef were able to gain a much clearer understanding of the source of the food waste, prioritise improvements and track their impact. The nature of the Hungry Horse pub operation meant that the food waste was largely plate waste, although some avoidable preparation and spoilage waste was also identified.

Achieving cost reductions

The analysis identified a range of relatively small and often simple opportunities, which together could achieve substantial cost savings. This included improved portion control by ensuring that Green King meal specifications were carefully adhered to, optimised use of ingredients and improved management of the quantities of food prepared after the main evening peak service.

There are clear implications for equipment procurement on this front, particularly in terms of food preparation appliances, such as portioners and slicers. It was found, for instance, that the use of vegetables could be optimised through improving the utilisation of the item and reducing unnecessary waste. By carefully removing only the very central core of a pepper, at least 10% extra could be gained. Similar gains were made by not automatically discarding a large number of outer layers of onions.

The trial successfully reduced food waste per cover by around 15% and achieved substantial financial savings equating to a reduction across the site of around four tonnes per year.

“The trial has been a great success, making a real difference to our bottom line,” said Jeff Bones, manager of the site. “We have been able to drive down food waste significantly through a combination of small changes.”

With the Branocs Tree seeing notable savings from implementing a number of simple improvements, Greene King will be assessing the value of achieving these improved practices across all of Greene King’s 200 Hungry Horse sites.

The approach taken at the venue could also be successfully applied across the other Greene King brands, such as Old English Inns, Loch Fyne Seafood & Grill and Belhaven Pubs, and a further trial is planned. This would potentially bring even greater benefits and operational savings to the wider group.

In addition to the on-site improvements, further opportunities were identified. For example, the tracking of plate waste highlighted particular dishes on the menu that were responsible for the majority of the waste, so further savings could be achieved through wider changes to the menus and specifications.




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