Excess food is a part of the restaurant business. I believe that reducing surplus food is the ideal, but that requires sacrificing either sales (only order a set amount for each day) or convenience (prepare food to order). Sometimes those sacrifices just aren’t feasible.
It’s what restaurants do with the excess that interests me. They have three main choices: throw it away, donate it to food recovery groups or sell it at a discounted rate. From Seth Godin’s marketing perspective, the third option may not be best when it comes to yesterday’s sushi.
But from where I’m sitting, selling day old sushi isn’t completely crazy. The alternative would be to do what my local supermarket does–throw out their rotisserie chickens after five hours. Sure, they’re protecting their image of freshness, but they’re wasting a great deal of food in the process. In addition, learning that an item the store would sell you one minute becomes trash the next can alienate customers.
Of course, sushi may be a bit of a unique case. I haven’t heard of any food rescue groups that recover uneaten sushi. But if it’s kept colder than 40 degrees, so there’s no reason why it can’t be donated.
The day old sushi option also reminds me of an even more questionable way of dealing with excess. A group of students at Pacific Lutheran University take their name from their question to departing cafeteria diners: Are You Gonna Eat That? The students eat the diners’ unwanted leftovers to reduce waste and raise awareness. A noble effort, but if it came down to yesterday’s sushi or today’s lunch leftovers from a stranger, sign me up for the former.