Environnement, food challenges, out of home catering, Public Health

In Communities & Hotels, 75% of meals are industrialized. Without changing the model, there are no sustainable meals; lies and truths.

8 minute reading

 By Admin.Edwige

“It is not in its effects that one attacks an evil but in its cause”


In a constantly growing industry, meal service providers complain of insufficient margins claiming ever more subsidies

« Today, a catering service provider indicates that each meal prepared is 9% in deficit. In 2015, the service was already in deficit by 3%….a symptom of the dysfunction of the industrialization of collective meals.

Meal service in Brussels public schools. Rising turnover, insufficient margins…

An ultra-mechanized meal preparation model, according to the recommendations of manufacturers in order to achieve economies of scale 👇

« Not to transfer the culinary preparations throughout the production & distribution cycle by using equipment designed to be compatible with each other, to condition the portions to the standard standards of the equipment (storage, transport, oven distribution systems and self-service stoves -services and buffets, transit trolleys, hot cupboards, meal trays


….which sacrifice quality and diversity, suppress the prerogatives of the cook and the raison d’être of a real service 👇

« The average throughput in front of a self-service is 7 customers per minute….blockages can occur in the chain due to customer hesitation….the diversification of dishes is limited because too many possibilities of choices would increase the risks of waiting due to consumer indecision…etc


…and assigning responsibility to client establishments and guests 👇

“The sorting and recycling of waste, the wrong size of the plates, using the same plate for the starter and the main course (2 trips…), removing certain menus; consumers who use them badly, raw materials (raw) too expensive and/or in too small quantities, unpeeled vegetables, too expensive before processing, distribution costs or prohibited competition with public markets.., poorly trained staff, do not overdo ask for “assisted” meals…


Commodity inflation: the cause of the deficit, really? In addition to the deficit complained of by manufacturers, there are social and environmental deficits resulting in customer establishments in a devaluation of jobs: staff transformed into ever faster food couriers, handling of plethoric equipment, pressure in the kitchen, disorganization in the dining room, queues and Kg of food on hold, random reheating, (time/temperature/volumes/health and organoleptic consequences), recipes adapted to standardized cooking, lack of diversity, lack of well-being (staff, consumers, juniors, seniors, reduced mobility and young people who prefer street food), 20 to 30% waste and impact of the supply and demand. Holders of the processing/distribution system, manufacturers are therefore also holders of supplies whose quantities and nature of food are adapted to the industrialized model locked in a vicious circle of monocultures and intensive farming and not, from more local, more diversified available resources, of which only culinary know-how and its restoration tool are able to highlight, this is how all the recipes have always been born and meet the needs.

For now, the stages of the production process are disconnected from each other: unsynchronized supplies = overproduction = waste; pressure on kitchen staff = lack of quality = waste; centralized display of food = surplus = waste; uncomfortable service and plate chilling = waste on plate; explain waste statistics 👇

School 200 students: 3.4 tonnes of waste =13,800 meals = €20,000 in losses
Middle school 500 middle school students, 21 tonnes of waste = 22,000 meals = €33,000
High school 800 high school students, 24 tonnes of waste = 40,000 meals = €70,000
Retirement home, 30 residents, 3.2 tonnes of waste =13,000 meals = €19,000
« Figures that suggest the quantities of waste in a University of 10,000 students… a company with 3,000 employees… or even, and by way of example, in a hospital…


For decades, subsidies have satisfied no one but the running and operating costs of obsolete equipment, storage, packaging, transport and energy…industrialized meals bearing fruit on a huge market of captive consumers and public markets. Impacting the entire sector, the issue deserves to reconsider the model and the working tool 👇

The catering tool having fundamentally not changed, the logistical constraints are relatively heavy, a large staff and substantial equipment in the kitchen are necessary to absorb the shock of the classic gunshot at the time of production, which cannot spread over time… »


The real cause of the deficit is a technical deficit of the catering tool generating an excess of means, a combination of energy-consuming materials as damaging for the budget as for the food (too much heating) complicating the distribution/service of several hundred kg of food in a limited time T, within strict technical standards and organizational constraints while respecting the meal consumption environment. 👇

« The standards for the implementation of catering services are not limited to the temperature of the dishes at the time « T » (end of cooking or reheating) but are subject to the duration, number and distance of service, without undergoing a thermal break, and falling within a narrow range between 70 and 63–(holding is not cooking). »…… The disadvantages are related to the often delicate respect of the chain of heat, in certain cases, it is rather a lukewarm connection conducive to the development of bacteria…maintaining a temperature greater than or equal to 63°C depends on the temperature of the dishes leaving the kitchen, the transport conditions, the type and performance of the containers used, the consumption times, etc.


Waste is « just one » of the symptoms of a dysfunctional system. The observation is identical everywhere (except in small units with a cook at the controls), also in independent management or in hotels, the service remains an essential element of costs and quality.

Without leeway in the kitchen and in the service, reheated meals are distributed according to a “model” born in the USA in 1914 (when the staff went on strike, people served themselves).

Applied to hundreds of Kg, this amounts to goods that are left on the quay after a long and expensive journey of outsourced meals….. Is it the customer establishments to bear the blame? 👉

A technically and operationally suffocated model, unfinished work, centralized service, congesting concert food in ovens and stoves, service shipped or in meal trays regenerated and kept warm in thermal boxes for hours after numerous and preliminary handlings are the real causes of the loss margins and the overall deficit.