This Startup Is Turning Big Companies' Waste into 350,000 Meals

A startup is teaching commercial kitchens to say goodbye to food waste with its innovative system.

A startup is helping big business reduce their annual waste and save massive amounts of money. Winnow has developed technology that shows chefs how much waste they are creating in real time and what that is costing in actual dollars. Ikea is one of the big names that has adopted the technology and they estimate that have already saved close to 350,000 meals worth nearly $900,000 in just eight months.

The company has introduced Winnow to 70 of its stores and has plans to add the technology into 400 stores within two years. Ikea spokesperson Ylva Magnusson described the benefits saying, "Being able to instantly visualize the waste in weight and convert that into what it means in lost sales is key to us. It helps make adjustments to be more efficient in forecasting and planning of menus and volumes."

Winnow says chefs are conscious of waste but have previously lacked the tools to properly track and visualize the waste that is happening in their kitchens. Winnow weighs a kitchen waste as it enters the rubbish bin at the same time as kitchen staff enters data on the waste they are throwing away. The software then analyzes the results and presents data on the waste in both dollar amounts and environmental impact.

5-20 percent of all food purchased goes to waste 

Marc Zornes, CEO of Winnow says once that chefs and kitchen operations staff can actually see how much waste their kitchens are creating they very quickly reorganize to reduce the numbers. The company claims that food waste costs kitchens between 5-20 percent of all food purchased. These can be debilitating numbers for kitchens where margins can be dangerously thin to begin with.

In a Ted talk from 2015, Zornes advocated for the wats that ‘for-profit’ companies can help for good. He said: “We’re part of a small but growing community of entrepreneurs that are trying to solve this issue, and I invite you to join us.”

Innovation

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The London based startup has received a huge amount of investment. Following a $3.3 million Series A round in January 2016, the company recently disclosed it has raised $7.4 million in further funding. The latest round of funding was led by, Circularity Capital, and existing backers Mustard Seed, and D-Ax.

Food waste is an issue that traditionally was tackled by not-for-profit companies. In Australia, OzHarvest is the company's leading food harvest charity. The company works with restaurants and cafes to collect food waste and make it accessible to the community that otherwise struggles to access regular food sources. The company recently opened a rescued food supermarket that allows for ‘customers’ to come and ‘take what you need and take what you can’.

OzHarvest has a relationship with more than 2500 food donors that donate excess food that otherwise would end in the trash. OzHarvest founder, RRonni Kahn, says “We rescue food that can’t be sold by supermarkets and food retailers due to it being past its use-by date, but which is still perfectly good to eat. If something has expired, that’s no reason to toss it away.”

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