Over the last five years, we have worked with hundreds of kitchens of all sizes and styles. In catering sites, quick service restaurants, large hotels and cruise ships we are now saving 15 million meals a year. During our journey, we’ve learned some valuable lessons, and these can help optimise your kitchen’s workflow to save you time and resources.
Today we speak with Sagar Mahagaonkar, Business Development Director at Winnow’s Singapore office. Sagar has been helping the APAC’s hotel and catering sectors achieve its target of saving a million meals before the end of 2018. During his last visit to our London headquarters, we talked to him about the challenges and joys of raising awareness of food waste in the Asia Pacific region.
- How did you end up at Winnow?
I come from a hospitality background. I studied at the Institute of Hotel Management, which is one of India’s most prestigious hospitality schools. After that, I moved to Australia for further education and worked in a corporate career. Hospitality and food have always been close to my heart resulting in my investing in & operating restaurants.
I joined Winnow because the company aligns my passion for food and my background in hospitality. In addition to that, Winnow is on a mission to tackle one of the world’s most urgent issues: food waste. It’s a perfect match.
- What’s the best part of your job?
The best part of my job is the feeling that in a small way, I am personally contributing to tackling the issue of food waste. It is simply unacceptable to see ⅓ of all food getting wasted every year while millions of people don’t have enough to eat.
- What was the biggest challenge you faced when you first started selling Winnow in APAC? How did you overcome it?
The main challenge I face comes from the false perspective that digital tools are time-consuming. Commercial kitchens are very busy environments, and it is not uncommon to hear from chefs and managers that their teams can’t afford to waste any time. But, we normally quickly overcome that fear by showing them that on average 8 minutes per service is spent using Winnow. The time commitment is very low, and in addition to that, the Winnow system helps them save significantly more time by pointing them in the right direction to only cook the necessary amount of food.
- Do you see food waste as a growing trend in the Asian hospitality industry?
Yes. I believe that Asia is behind Europe in terms of food waste awareness, but I see food waste as a growing trend. More and more researches are being published and Governments are implementing initiatives to reduce food waste.
In Asia, buffets are always large and very popular all over the region. As a result of that, food waste is imminent. Having said, chefs hate food waste, and hotel managers can also save money with food waste reduction. So, food waste offers great business opportunities in the Asian hospitality and foodservice sector.
- What are some of the interesting feedback you have been receiving from clients?
I find most interesting and also rewarding when chefs tell us that they wish they had started using Winnow earlier!
- What is the project you’ve worked on that has made the most difference to date?
Everybody from the Winnow office in Asia has developed a close relationship with the Accor project. We have been working with AccorHotels for many years now. It makes us very happy to be able to help them reach closer to their food waste reduction target. They are leading the sustainability agenda and have become a great example to other large hotel brands.
- What is your piece of advice to hotels looking to reduce food waste?
My advice to hotels that are looking to reduce food waste, is to find a way to measure it first. What get measured gets managed. In order to minimize waste hotels, need to identify what they are wasting, at what time and why that waste is happening. Once they have this data, they can make better production decisions.
Photo credit: Tim Wright via Unsplash