The handling of waste in the food production line is a major challenge for the industry. Equipment that does not work efficiently may result in burnt, undercooked or even over-mixed food, ultimately generating waste.
Bakery waste can also be the result of different bakery management decisions and can occur at all stages of bakery production: it can consist of unsold loaves of bread and bakery items that have reached the end of their shelf life and are then dumped as waste, or they can be caused by a mismanagement of order quantities.
KBV Research identified some of the main areas of interest bakeries need to address in order to keep waste under control in their production facility.
Production sequencing and changeovers
Waste often occurs during a change from one line to another, e.g. where the remaining dough from a specified batch is inadequate in making a full product and cannot be used in the production of the line.
Where processes are defined to minimize waste and ensure that any waste is properly handled, all members of the bakery team must follow them. Failure to do so can have a significant impact on waste.
Ingredient lot sizes/ minimum order quantities/ order frequencies
Waste can be produced as a result of inappropriate lot sizes/minimum order quantities and/or frequencies resulting in the ordering and use of ingredients in higher quantities than needed, to meet the demand. For example, in the case of pre-mixed ingredients, packaging sizes that are higher than the quantity required to produce a batch means that the surplus ingredients must either be stored and then used or discarded.
Meeting daily production plans to ensure that all freshly baked stocks are on the shelves at the right time is a complex process that allows little room for error or delay. Any additional stresses (e.g. seasonal lines, weather-related changes in demand, illness, holidays, broken or defective equipment, etc.) can put additional pressure on the bakery teams which, in turn, can increase waste, e.g. due to rushing to meet time pressures.
A Global Problem
An estimated 1.3bn tons of food is wasted globally each year, one third of all food produced for human consumption, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations, costing the global economy close to USD940bn each year. These missing food products are also linked to massive greenhouse gas emissions, wasted in homes, hospitality and foodservice, food manufacturing, retail and wholesale industries.
According to WRAP sustainability experts, who calculated these estimates for the UK, surplus bread is one of the food retailers’ biggest waste problems. The charity for food waste intervention claimed that surplus bakery items, including freshly baked lines, accounted for nearly one-third – or 67,500 tons – of the overall UK food waste from retail.
Using in-store surpluses to make a delicious new product preserves good food from spoiling and lowers the cost of waste to the company. Bread is also the second most wasted food in the household, and globally, about one million loaves are wasted every day.
The reason for the increasing amount of waste in the baking industry are the high customer expectations as to the quality of bread and variety of its product range and their desire to buy bread “straight from the oven”. Bakeries that want to meet these requirements are implementing new technologies such as deferred baking (baking from frozen dough), baking pre-roasted dough bites or baking bites subjected to controlled fermentation. These technologies are designed to provide consumers with hot bread on almost every occasion. Apart from the increased supply and variety of bread there is also a reduction in demand to be observed.
You can read the rest of this article in the Winter Issue of World Bakers Digital magazine, which you can access by clicking here.