Tuesday, 3 April 2012

Better restaurants, less food

It is well established that in the USA, UK and other parts of the well-fed world that a large proportion of people eat too much, often of the wrong type of food, so that they can be undernourished and overfed at the same time. People eating too much is not only obscene when set against famines and malnourishment on a large scale but is a sign of neurosis, media obsession with food and enslavement to the stomach.

My impression, living in the UK, is that there is a growing awareness of this. I also think that there is a business opportunity here which could help accelerate society towards a lower consumption per person.

So I am suggesting a new approach to catering where the customer pays according to quantity, i.e. the amount of food on his or her plate. Many clients of self-service restaurants, cafes, fast food outlets and takeaways would prefer not to be given huge portions as standard but to be charged according to the amounts and types of food they choose to have placed on their plate – either by themselves or by the person serving them. In the past this was not a practicable proposition but with modern camera-cum-computer technology the situation could change quickly. All one needs is a camera to register how much food is piled onto your plate and a weighing device, and to feed these two parameters into a program to calculate the appropriate charge, an amount approximately proportional to the type and weight of food chosen by the customer.

No more leaving an eating or serving establishment with a bloated feeling or guilt or embarrassment at having wasted a good proportion of the food when so many in the world are starving. Not only would this improve the customer experience it would mean, globally

  • less energy wasted on food production and transport as well as lower fossil fuel emissions and less use of water

  • reduced greenhouse emissions from food production and rotting waste

  • customer trends towards smaller portions would be reinforced by price penalties for larger ones

  • the habit of smaller helpings from caterers would spread to home eating habits

  • food retailers would need to reflect the trend e.g. customers could have food dispensed in variable amounts by machines matched to reusable packaging

  • farmers, retailers and caterers would have to concentrate on quality and customer demands to get the necessary profit margins

  • less obesity in the developed world

  • lower expenditure by health services on diabetes, hip replacement and heart problems

I invite someone to try this.  If you do please email me and I might be your first customer. Or perhaps someone else somewhere in the world has already done this