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App Targets Commercial Kitchens, Cuts Food Waste by Half

Food waste just may be the hottest environmental concern du jour, with particular focus on waste in grocery stores and restaurants, but a new app could help. The Winnow System smart meter helps restaurants measure and analyze the food they toss: it identifies the types of food they tend to throw away, collects data from an electronic scale, and tells them the value of what’s being wasted. This info could lead to improvements in a restaurant’s production processes, according to Winnow (via The Guardian).

Staff use a simple touchscreen, fully customised to the restaurant’s menu, to quickly identify the type of food thrown away and at what stage. “It literally takes seconds,” the company says. Cloud software analyzes and records the day’s waste. The menu integration allows the system to automatically record a number of key metrics.

About 200 kitchens have cut their food waste in half using the solution, according to Winnow. Sofitel Hotels & Resorts, for example, saved more than $60,000 in a single location by reducing food waste.

The Waste and Resources Action Programme estimates that 21% of food waste in commercial kitchens comes from spoilage, 45% happens during food prep, and 34% comes from what’s leftover after a customer eats.

Investment in food-management technology can help drive behavioral changes in product and consumption, wrote Joseph Gridley, director of The Good Kitchen, an accelerator in Europe supporting early stage startups that address food poverty, in a Winnow blog post. In fact, technology is one of the ways to solve what he calls “an unsustainable food system.”

Gridley points out that, since 2012, venture capitalists started investing increasingly in food technology companies.According to the AgTech Investing Report, over $4.6 billion was invested in food and agriculture tech startups in 2015. It is nearly double the amount invested in 2014.

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