The EU wastes over 89million tonnes of feed per year and the UK are the worst offenders. In 2013 we threw away 200,000 tonnes of food and, although households are responsible for a large proportion of this, retailers and the food industry also dispose of a lot.

Aside from the environmental impact, waste is the enemy of many small sandwich businesses. Many foods have such short lifespans, so it’s useless if it’s not sold that day. A certain amount of waste is expected but too much waste eats into your already-slim profits, which in turn can limit your growth.

So how can you combat waste? Here are a few ideas to get you started…

1.    Repeat business?

The easy option would be simply to prepare what people previously ordered. This might work on a small scale, but of course, people don’t always order exactly the same thing and this won’t leave you much room for serving new customers. Sandwich shops that deliver know they need to take out a certain amount of extra stock, even if they know what their regulars will want.

2.    Measure, measure and measure

You could track what you use and what you waste. Not just on a day to day basis but look at weekly, monthly and even seasonal changes. Can you gain a greater understanding of what your customers order to help you better forecast what they will want?  We see seasonal trends in food orders across our customers and having the data digitally makes analysis easier.

3.    Remove the guess work

The simplest way is to remove the guess work entirely and ask your customers what they want in advance! Ok, so it won’t work for all your customers as you’ll always have those who turn up at the last minute but if your customers can pre-order and pre-pay using a system specifically designed for ordering food online, it makes your life easier – you can reduce wastage and meet customer demand – no more running out before the end of lunchtime.

4.    Do your bit for charity

The alternative is to embrace your wastage and donate your leftovers to a local homeless shelter. Using ‘unwanted’ food is increasingly popular, with some cafes running entirely from ‘waste’ food, but make sure you call up the local paper to cover the story to benefit from the free PR. It won’t reduce your wastage but it might help you grow your business anyway!