One of the biggest concerns for 5.4 as it expands is ensuring it sticks to the ethics of its founder, Ben Doolan. For the company, a major part of this is avoiding food waste.
5.4 is committed to not only reducing food waste in customers’ homes, but also in its own kitchen. This means only buying enough supplies to cook the number of meals ordered each week.
While it would be more cost effective for the company to cook massive amounts of food in bulk, this can lead to waste: Something Doolan is keen to avoid.
“We don’t lock our customers into long term contracts, so the number of meals needed each week can change pretty quickly,” he says.
“If we ordered and cooked in bulk we would save on the bottom line, but inevitably there would be some waste in overstocking meals. The thought of throwing away food makes me sick to the stomach.”
Instead the company would rather have to make additional, smaller orders of fresh produce to meet increased demand rather than see bulk food go to waste.
This is always why the company blast-freezes all fresh meals: Not only does it lock in freshness, but it ensures they have the longest life possible. All meals have a three-month expiry date, giving customers flexibility if they find they have extra in their freezer.
So why the dedication to waste reduction? For Doolan, it’s a question of principle.
“Food waste is a global issues so our entire company, including all our team, are committed to reducing our food waste footprint both in the workplace and at home,” he says.
“One of the largest contributors to food waste can be attributed to the household fridge, so the best way to reduce this is by freezing meals to extend their life and only buying what you know you will eat. 5.4 delivers on both of these.”
But even with the best laid plans, sometimes there are leftovers. When this happens, they are immediately frozen to avoid any cooked food going to waste.
All leftover food is then donated to local food banks, or sold at community events with all funds raised going to charity and shelters.
“We ran an event recently where all proceeds went to Beyond Blue, and it was a privilege to be involved,” Doolan says.
For Doolan, he hopes others in the industry will follow his lead.
“We want to set an example as a company to make decisions that are based on waste reduction, not bottom line,” he says.
“I believe food waste reduction should be a conscious decision for everyone, not just those in the food industry.”