Production data are obtained from records of the number of menu items that are prepared, used, and discarded by food service staff. For example, these records document how many trays of specific entrées and side dishes were prepared on a given day, how many of these trays were served, and how many remained or were discarded. Production records are often part of normal food service business practices to measure waste and forecast how much of a food item should be prepared when it is served again in the future. If you obtain the cooperation of food service managers, you can use production records as a proxy to measure sales of healthy and less healthy entrées and side items.
Advantages of Production Data
- Production data measures amounts of menu items prepared and sold during specific time periods rather than just the raw material ingredients procured over a larger time interval.
- Production records may offer more specificity than point-of-sale data regarding entrees and side dishes. This is because point-of-sale systems may not be able to record differences between healthy and less healthy offerings.
- Production data may provide the only means to measure the healthfulness of foods selected from a salad bar since salad bar sales are usually recorded by weight and not by the specific item selected.
Disadvantages of Production Data
- Production data may not be recorded consistently among staff.
- Production data may not be retained electronically over time.
- If the cooking staff does not use standardized recipes, then your data of healthy versus less healthy foods may not be accurate.