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Foodservice operators tend to work with high stock levels so they can react to peaks. However, maintaining excess stock can cost a lot of money
1.	Optimise your shelf plan

1. Optimise your shelf plan

Minimize cross contamination and reduce the risk of spoilage by storing these ingredients separately:

  • Whole fish
  • Whole cuts of beef and pork
  • Ground meats and fish
  • Ground poultry
  • Dairy products absorb flavors, so store them below other goods
  • Dry stock at room temperature should be 6 inches from the ground and away from the walls

2.	Organise stock to match your supplier

2. Organise stock to match your supplier

Organize your stock according to the purchasing list of your supplier or wholesaler. This saves you precious time when controlling your stock for ordering.

3. Organise products by pick frequency to save time

3. Organise products by pick frequency to save time

Put products with a high pick frequency at the beginning of your route. The person who assembles the products needs less time to get the products they need.

Improved storage using the ABC model can save 60% of your time! 

  • Zone A (closest to the door): products that have a high turnover but relatively little pick locations
  • Zone C (furthest from the door): products that will be stored a lot longer than products in group A. They have a low turnover and take lots of space in the store room.
  • Zone B (located between A & C): products in between A and C according to turnover and pick frequencies.

Revise your shelf plan frequently. Slow moving dishes can turn into fast movers and the other way around so it’s important you keep checking all the products are in the right spot to ensure correct stock rotation.

4. Set safety stock % & don’t exceed it

4. Set safety stock % & don’t exceed it

Most restaurants plan for 20% buffer of fresh ingredients for busy periods. So, in total there is 120% fresh stock. Consider an additional contingency stock which is frozen or ambient and only used in case of emergency on the highest demand days to ensure correct stock rotation.

Our products like Gravy, Hollandaise, Demi-glace can be a great support for contingency. 

5. Set a par level

5. Set a par level

Par level is the minimum amount of inventory needed to meet the demand for dishes including a buffer in case of unexpected demand.  

Calculate par level for each ingredient and post these in the stock room, so your team knows when and how much to re-order.  

When your inventory goes below the par level, an order should be placed to restock the item and ensure correct stock rotation.

Par level = (weekly inventory use + Safety stock) / Deliveries per week 


  • (14 cases used weekly + 3 cases (20% safety)) / 2 deliveries per week = 8.5 
  • In this example, the par level for this item would be 8.5 cases. 

Waste expert Executive Chef Richard Green explains how to work with par levels in our UFS Academy Waste Management Course

Start UFS Academy course now

6.	Correct stock rotation using FIFO

6. Correct stock rotation using FIFO

NOT using FIFO – first in, first out - will cost money. The system only works if all staff are trained and following the rules. Use our UFS Academy training videos to refresh your staff and induct newcomers in restaurant FIFO.

7. Storing vegetables

7. Storing vegetables

  • Remove the strings and rubber bands.
  • Cut the ends of the leaves before storing them, leaving a piece so that the vegetable does not dry out.
  • Place vegetables loose in the fridge: close together they rot.
  • Clean leafy vegetables before storing them by rinsing in a container of water.
  • Fine herbs and mushrooms are washed just before use.  

Don't store fruits and vegetables together.

8. Storing fruit

8. Storing fruit

  • Fruits with a kernel in the middle (except cherries) - avocados, tomatoes, mangoes, melons, apples and pears ripen further when stored at room temperature.
  • Products such as peppers, grapes, all citrus fruits and berries must be kept cool, otherwise they rot.
  • Bananas ripen very quickly. They also accelerate ripening of the fruit with which they come into contact.

9. Try vacuum packing

9. Try vacuum packing

Extend shelf life and control odor, reducing the risk of spoiling other products.

10. Consider smarter shelving

10. Consider smarter shelving

  • ‘Roll-through’ shelves roll down as soon as a product is picked. This type of shelving keeps your fridge tidy, gives you a good overview of stock and guarantees FIFO
  • Use trolleys that move to optimize space, or build an entresol.
  • An entresol is an extra mezzanine level which you can use to store products.

This video shows the before and after of a restaurant walk-in makeover, demonstrating the key principles and benefits of smart storage layout, shelving and containers:

Watch storage makeover

“Sometimes less space can lead to greater efficiency. Physical restrictions can mean that you are forced to concentrate on stock levels, and this is no bad thing. Even so, there is no excuse to throw out past date items or out of condition fresh goods. Electronic stock control systems are great, but don’t rely just on that. Any system needs manual checking – our tips and tricks will help, but the key to success is giving this area your undivided attention.”

Chris Barber
Chef and Food Consultant