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    How to Use Food Yield Percentage

    `Zoe Pickburn` : Posted on April 18, 2022

    Do you know how much of each ingredient in your inventory you need to actually make a dish?

    This is known as food yield, or yield percentage, and tells you how much of any ingredient is left after preparation and processing. This may include the parts of the vegetables left after peeling and coring or the usable meat after butchering. 

    Understanding food yield is essential to understanding the overall food cost for your restaurant. It can also predict and reduce food waste, as you understand the expected and acceptable amount of waste from each ingredient, and can calculate inventory needs and par levels accordingly. 

    Get Costs and Ordering Under Control by Calculating Food Yield

    Knowing your percentage yield serves three important purposes for any restaurant owner or manager. With your percentage yield you can

    • Determine how much of each usable food ingredient you have after processing and production.
    • Calculate how much of a raw ingredient you need to purchase for each recipe.
    • Determine the actual cost-per-portion of ingredients for every dish on your menu.

    Yield calculations can help you manage inventory by understanding and considering the losses and waste involved in preparation and cooking. Your food yield calculations give you an insight into how much raw material you need to order and have on hand to prepare a particular dish. 

    Keep that information in mind when you order ingredients and set par levels. 

    Keeping consistent numbers on your food yield percentage also helps you 

    • Plan and revise menus
    • Establish proper storage and rotation guidelines 
    • Manage vendors

    Understanding your food cost percentage with yield management helps you to control food costs by reducing unnecessary waste, as well. Conducting a regular yield test for each item on the menu lets you compare your theoretical yield to your actual yield.

    Using Yield to Calculate Food Costs

    Calculating food cost percentage is essential for any restaurant manager or owner. It is the first step to understanding other important metrics such as COGS and profit. You can use your yield percentage to calculate food costs, as well.

    How to Calculate Food Yield and Food Costs

    First, let’s review exactly how to calculate food yield percentage for each ingredient in your storeroom.

    Take the total weight of the raw ingredient. This is your as-purchased weight (AP weight). Then do any food production or preparation required, and weigh the discarded parts. This is your waste or trim weight. Finally, subtract the waste from the AP weight to get your yield or edible product (EP) weight:

    AP weight – waste = EP weight

    For example, you purchase 10 lbs of potatoes to make your fries (AP weight). After peeling and chopping, you discard 2 lbs (waste), leaving you with 8 lbs of fries ready to cook (EP weight). 

    Your yield percentage converts this EP weight into a percentage: 

    EP weight / AP weight x 100 = yield %

    In this example, the yield percent is 8 / 10 x 100 = 80%

    If a portion of fries is half a pound, this means that you actually get 16 portions of fries from your 10lb bag of potatoes, and not 20 portions. That difference is called the yield gap.

    Once you know and understand your food yield percentage, you can also calculate your edible portion cost, or EP cost: The cost of each portion of food. In the example above, to calculate the cost of a portion of fries, you would take the cost of 10lbs of potatoes (let’s say $8.42), and divide it by the number of portions you can make from the prepared potatoes (16, so the potatoes cost 53 cents per portion). Using the portion cost of each ingredient in a dish, you can then calculate the total cost of the dish or recipe.

    Yield Percentage vs. Waste Percentage

    While your yield percentage can tell you the percent of a raw ingredient used in a dish, your waste percentage tells you the percent of raw ingredients and food that went to waste. That may include the portion disposed of during preparation, but could also include spoilage and mistakes. Both are important for understanding — and reducing –- your total restaurant food cost and COGS.

    Costing Individual Items on a Plate

    If you’re planning a new menu or revising your current one, costing individual items on a plate will help you understand what to charge, what to keep, and what to get rid of. Understanding the ideal food cost percentage for each menu item helps you to keep a close eye on inventory and waste, as well. 

    When you understand the cost of each ingredient in a dish, you can calculate the food cost or plate cost, and from there you can use your ideal food cost percentage to manage recipe costing and set menu prices.

    Food costing can help you manage your menu by comparing your ideal or theoretical food cost to your actual food cost to pinpoint and correct any potential issues, such as over-portioning, unnecessary wastage due to spoilage or theft, or higher-than-expected supplier costs.

    Using Inventory Management Software to Track Food Yield and Yield Percentage

    Restaurant inventory management software can help you track food waste and yield percentage accurately by controlling inventory. Track the cost and amount for every ingredient that comes in, quickly take accurate inventory counts, and connect with POS software to understand exactly how much of that inventory you are selling — and how much is going to waste.

    Once you have conducted yield testing for all your recipes, you can factor that into your waste calculations. For example, if you know that yield for potatoes is 20%, the first 20% of waste is to be expected. You can even use yield testing to calculate your average yield across the restaurant.

    Increase Yield and Decrease Waste With Inventory Management Software 

    Your inventory management system helps you with inventory control. It can help you to increase yield by pinpointing which menu items have the highest yield percentage and the most usable product which can tell you the true cost of an item of inventory. By considering the waste and byproducts of food preparation, you might be able to reduce this wastage, either by exploring different production techniques (skin-on fries, for example) or by considering how you can use the byproducts of food (such as by using meat and vegetable scraps to make your own stock or to decrease waste by considering your portion sizes.

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