Interview Max Premium Burger | Sweden

"Food waste is ugly and unnecessary!"

Kaj Török, Chief Sustainability Officer at Max Burger
Max Burger
Kaj Török, Chief Sustainability Officer at Max Burger

How does Europe's F&B sustainability pioneer, Max Premium Burgers, deal with food waste? foodservice Europe & Middle East asked Chief Sustainability Officer Kaj Török.

This text is an excerpt. Read the full interview in foodservice Europe & Middle East. Read now!

Kaj, Max Premium Burger has inspired many other companies with its climate-positive burgers and CO2-labled menus. From the CSO's perspective, what role does food waste play?
Kai Török: Throwing away food is a terrible waste of human labor as well as the associated carbon footprint. All the CO2 emissions associated with food production, the nitrogen and phosphorus emissions, the soil degradation, the water consumption - it's all for nothing if the food is thrown away. It's ugly and unnecessary.

How does Max deal with food waste?
We've been measuring our food waste for many years. Why? Because, completely unrelated to our sustainability goals, we also save money by having less food waste. It's a matter of cost efficiency. Reducing food waste helps us lower our food costs. Currently, only 0.9 percent of the food in our kitchens is thrown away. This is good for us both economically and environmentally.

How do you succeed in reducing food waste to less than 1 percent?
Aside from the fact that many of our ingredients are frozen and consequently don't spoil as quickly, our made-to-order approach is certainly a very important factor. We don't prepare food until our guests order it. Therefore, we never have any food sitting around that will eventually be cold and no longer appetizing. Other QSR providers are now switching to made-to-order as well. In my opinion, this is the right way to go - also from a guest perspective. Freshly prepared food simply tastes better. Of course, made-to-order can delay the service a little bit. We're not talking about minutes, here, but some customers may just not have this additional time to spare.

What about front-of-the house food waste ?
We don't have any exact figures on our guests' food waste. But we do have an analysis, which shows that our customers throw away very little food in the restaurants. I think it's because they just ordered their food and paid for it. When you want something deliberately, you eat it. It's different at a buffet: you quickly pile on too much - and when you realize you're full, you have to throw the food away.

What happens to the small amount of food waste in Max restaurants?
Normally in Sweden, food waste is used to produce biogas. They don't end up in landfill. But we are also looking at ways to make vegetable charcoal (biochar) from our food waste.

About Kaj Török

Kaj Török joined Max in 2006 as a sustainability consultant while working at Futerra. He joined Max in 2016 and was recently named Sweden's best Chief Sustainability Officer. His role and mission is to promote and inspire the company's sustainability efforts and green initiatives across the foodservice industry.

Subscribers can read how the Biochar project works and what the next sustainability steps are for Max Premium Burger in the full interview.  Read now!