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What is a normal range for food waste as a percentage of food purchases?

Patricia Montour's Profile

My employer has a chain of franchised restaurants. They have not been tracking their food waste on a consistent basis. I would like to use an industry benchmark to assess their volume of waste in a new tracking system. Added information is always a benefit, and reducing this is a worthwhile target.


Topic Expert
Mary Driscoll
Title: Senior Research Fellow
Company: APQC (American Productivity and Quality ..
(Senior Research Fellow, APQC (American Productivity and Quality Center)) |

Hi Patricia,
I do not have APQC benchmarks on this issue --we do have procurement process efficiency--but we have research to look at.
This site below references a 2005 study from the University of Arizona. “According to a 2005 study at the University of Arizona, food waste as a percentage of the total food used is 9.55% in fast food establishments and 3.11% in full service restaurants in the United States. That may not seem concerning, but, read the study for perspective.
also try these sites:
--Mary Driscoll

Len Green
Title: Performance Improvement Consultant and E..
Company: Haygarth Consulting LLC
LinkedIn Profile
(Performance Improvement Consultant and ERP Strategist, Haygarth Consulting LLC) |

Adding to Mary's list, try the National Restaurant Association. For example:

They may be able to help with studies that can give you benchmarks for your type of restaurant.

Larry Davis
Title: VP of Finance
Company: Fluid, Inc.
(VP of Finance, Fluid, Inc.) |


I'll answer this question from a very different perspective: my days as an Army mess officer! I ran a mess hall that fed 700 soldiers at each meal. Auditors would inspect my meal count records, then weigh my garbage and convert that weight to meals thrown out. I was only permitted a variance of +/- 3%. In the military, the "audit risk" is that personnel steal the raw food meant for the soldiers and sell it under the table. Many a mess sergeant has been court martialed for such an offense.

Patricia Montour
Title: CPA, CGMA
Company: Private Company
(CPA, CGMA, Private Company) |

Thank you all for your assistance with this question. I will share the information with my team and put it to good use!


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