A delayed flight, a curious COO and a rummage through garbage — all this led to an important lesson adopted at 280 food outlets across 19 Indian cities
Garbage though it may be, crores can be saved simply by studying the contents of dustbins at airport lounges, cafes and food outlets, it seems.
Last year Gaurav Dewan, the COO and business head of Travel Food Services, a food and beverages firm operating the GVK lounge in the Mumbai international airport, saw an overflowing dustbin on the premises while waiting for a flight that was delayed. With time to kill, he picked up a pair of gloves and rummaged through the contents of that bin to figure out why it was overflowing.
After a thorough examination, he ordered a three-day survey, and through it found out that the problem passengers had with the food was not about taste but portion size.This discovery set in motion a process which has not only saved the firm Rs 1.2 crore through changes made in just the dessert section of the free lounge buffet which passengers dive into before getting onto their late-night international flights, but also cut down food waste significantly.
This April, Dewan’s company subscribed to a quarterly ‘Dustbin Analysis’ conducted across 280 food outlets across 19 cities, including other airport lounges in Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata and Chennai. The ‘Dustbin Analysis’ analyses the eating habits of passengers. “The bin at the GVK lounge was full of barely eaten desserts,” said Dewan, in a conversation with Times of India. “Earlier, the dinner buffet would serve 15 varieties of desserts. Each passenger would pick two or three, maybe even four. They would eat a spoon or half and throw the rest.”
Following this survey, the firm cut down on the size of its desserts and began introducing smaller items like macarons and cupcakes.
“Now, we offer 18 [desserts] but small portions. Our dustbin waste has reduced, [the] cost has reduced. We saved Rs 1.2 crore in a year from the five lounges at Mumbai airport in the dessert’s category alone. Through bins used by customers, we learn what food item is not doing well while kitchen bins reveal what has been overproduced,” added Dewan.
The kitchen team reworked the menu to introduce small-sized desserts such as tiny cupcakes, macaroons, doughnuts and meringues. “Earlier, we offered 15 desserts in the lounge. Now, we offer 18 but small portions.
Our dustbin waste has reduced, spoilage has reduced, and the cost has reduced. We saved Rs 1.2 crore in a year’s time from the five lounges at Mumbai airport in the desserts category alone,” said Dewan. “Now, it’s become a religion. We target to save Rs 4-5 crore through this alone.”
Dustbins of outlets where people pay for food speak a different language though. “Through bins used by customers we learn what food item is not doing well while kitchen bins reveal what has been overproduced,” he said. Then again, dustbins revealed that 80 per cent of the sandwiches they sold were served grilled.
“The staff would bin the packaging, grill the sandwich and serve it on a plate. So we eradicated the packaging,” he said. At all 70 coffee shops TFS runs, sandwiches, rolls and quiches are displayed sans plastic wrapping in a temperature-controlled cabinet.
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