3 ways to reduce consumer plate waste with Winnow Sense

Posted by Rupert Hill / 28-Sep-2021

Chefs reducing plate waste

We’ve all been guilty of filling our plates up with more food than we can eat. From time to time, our eyes are bigger than our stomachs and we end up wasting what we cannot eat. It is easy to do, and at scale, can have a big financial and environmental impact. This blog shares three key ways to reduce consumer plate waste, and explores why it is so vital to do so.  

We share this blog on the International Day of Awareness of Food Loss and Waste 2021 - a milestone day as Winnow launches a solution to reduce post-consumer plate waste, Winnow Sense. Winnow Sense is a touchless system that draws insights from plate waste data and images. You can track waste across your entire operation, providing valuable diner insight.

Crucially, it can be used in the front or back of house depending on your operation. In an education or business environment, engaging with your diners on plate waste may be the most impactful approach to take.

This blog will share how you can reduce plate waste with Winnow Sense, but first let us frame why it is such a key issue to solve. 

Why is reducing plate waste important?

You may wonder why it’s important to cut plate waste.

If we zoom out momentarily, the impact of food waste on our planet continues to grow. The WWF recently reported that the world is wasting an additional billion tonnes of food than previously estimated. Of all greenhouse gas emissions we produce, food waste accounts for a huge 10%.

While data from the hospitality industry is not strong, WRAP estimates that plate waste in the UK’s hospitality and food service sector is over 30%. 

Evidently, there is financial and environmental benefit to reducing plate waste. Additionally, data from pre and post consumer food waste is critical as companies step up their ambition to reach net zero. 

Now, let’s move on to some ways to reduce consumer plate waste.

#1 Plate waste insights lead to 35% plate waste reduction

At the outset, it is essential to get an idea of the extent of plate waste from your customer plates.

At the outset of using Winnow Sense, an initial plate waste audit provides visibility into this waste stream. It also provides the first indication of the top items your customers are wasting, and any savings opportunities. 

After this, weekly analytics enable you to monitor the weight and value of plate waste over time. Winnow Sense is also equipped with a camera to provide insights from image data that can support menu planning.

The combination of the plate waste audit and the ongoing monitoring is powerful. Insights from Winnow Sense led to a 35% reduction in plate waste in the employee dining area of Melco Resorts & Entertainment.

#2 Touchless system effective in front or back of house locations

The next tip is about finding a way to reduce plate waste that fits the needs of your organisation. 

For instance, as Winnow Sense is touchless it can be effective in either front or back of house locations. In the front of house environment, you engage your diners on the subject of plate waste. This supports a more collaborative approach to reducing plate waste and evidence suggest that even having diners using the system has a positive impact on plate waste reduction.

However, not every business will want to engage their customers on the issue in this way. The system can be as easily installed in a wash room or kitchen where staff can throw away the plate waste.

As the system is entirely touchless, it is simple and fast for either diners or staff to use.

#3 Engage diners with a 12 week communication toolkit

Alongside using Winnow Sense, customers can also take advantage of a 12 week communication journey to work alongside diners to cut plate waste and environmental impact. 

Developed alongside the London School of Economics (LSE) Behavioural Science Team, you will have access to a set of custom posters that track your reduction over time. 

The study ran by LSE concluded that anthropomorphized food (i.e. pictures that depicted happy and sad food) had significant impacts on behavior leading to reduced levels of food waste.

These posters can bring to life the progress you are making, and celebrate that success together with your diners.

Looking ahead

As we look ahead, the hospitality industry has an opportunity to lead the fight against plate waste - both inside and outside the home. Qualitative feedback from Melco colleagues suggested a shift in behavior both at work and at home. There is a lot of progress yet to make, but indications are that the problem is surmountable.  

If you work in hospitality and are interested in what you have read, get in touch with us today to have a demo of Winnow Sense.


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