Hilton’s Travel With Purpose sustainability strategy lays out ambitious plans to reduce carbon intensity across its global operations. In fact, the chain was the first in the hotel sector to set science-based carbon targets aligned with climate science and the Paris Climate Agreement. Tackling food waste will be critical for the group to reach this goal and Hilton has set a goal to halve food waste, also by 2030.
As the first pioneer of Winnow Vision in Japan, Tokyo Hilton Bay brought Winnow's technology into its kitchens to fight food waste with AI and build the kitchen of the future. Through Winnow Vision, Hilton Tokyo Bay is changing how they approach food management. This is to the benefit of their business, customers and future generations.
Winnow has been working with Hilton Tokyo Bay since January 2020 to help them leverage data analytics to reduce food waste. Within the first 4 weeks of usage, before the pandemic had started impacting travel, the team has successfully cut food waste at Hilton Tokyo Bay by 30%. In the long term, that is equivalent to saving more than 17,016 meals and over ¥3,3 million or US$31,000 annually.
We caught up with Chef Matsuo from Hilton Tokyo Bay to talk about his passion for local produce, and culinary creativity.
What inspired you to become a Chef?
I've been interested in food since I was little. I remember cooking the first dish, sautéd spinach, for my family when I was 9. I had this dream, that one day I will become a chef and my family will enjoy the food I am preparing.
What’s the best part of your job?
The best part is that I can contribute to our guests' happiness through the food I cook. On the other hand, when I was younger, cooking was all about fun. Now I am managing a whole team, so the fun is coupled with responsibility which I find really exciting.
How has your operation changed since the start of the pandemic and what are the key challenges?
Safety and hygiene comes first and we had to follow protocols to ensure customers are kept safe while accessing our services. This meant that we had to change our buffet breakfast to plate format. We got feedback from our guests that while they appreciate our attention to safety, they miss the variety of food our buffet offered. It is a challenge to keep the balance between customer satisfaction and making sure we comply with Covid regulations.
One really positive aspect that came with the changes is that my team is more creative with the ingredients they have available. They are now constantly thinking about how to utilise leftover ingredients or rework them to a new dish.
What drove you to use Winnow?
At Hilton, we are committed to reducing waste and driving towards a circular economy. We have pledged to reduce food waste by 50% by 2030.
We recognize that the world needs our positive impact now more than ever – and we are in urgent need of bold, innovative solutions to tackle the challenges our global society is facing. We introduced Winnow to help us reach our food waste target so that future generations can Travel with Purpose for years to come.
How is your team using the Winnow system and what results have you achieved?
Winnow was installed in Hilton Tokyo Bay in January 2020. Within the first 4 weeks of usage, before the pandemic had started impacting travel, the team had successfully cut food waste at Hilton Tokyo Bay by 30%. In the long term that is the equivalent of saving more than 17,016 meals and over ¥3,3million or US$31,000 annually.
Winnow helps us unveil the hidden information we need to drive change. As a result of converting the amount of daily food waste into data and sharing what kind of food is discarded every day, the Kitchen Team is able to control the amount of food that needs to be prepared.
Thanks to the reports, everyone is aware of what are the main components of waste and also clear about the savings we are making.
Having this information available really enthuses the team to use the system and reduce our food waste daily. The team has weekly meetings where we go through the data and decide if we need any menu adjustments based on the results.
What challenges do you feel Winnow Vision could help you solve?
The issue at Hilton Tokyo Bay was the difficulty to control food waste due to differences in occupancy rate. However the introduction of Winnow has made it easier for us to control it. We can compare the amounts we prepared for 90%, 80% and so on occupancy rate and Winnow’s data give us guidance for the amount of food we should prepare.
What insights do you use on a regular basis? (e.g. from the analytics platform Winnow Hub or daily email reports)
We have an international buffet offering with Japanese, Chinese and Western cuisine. Winnow provides us insights to each of these areas in terms of what are the popular items and what are the ones we should prepare less of.
The numbers we are getting from the Winnow reports are really useful but Winnow Vision also gives us the possibility to have a look at our food waste in the form of pictures. With Winnow’s AI, every item that is thrown in the bin is captured with an image. Having the opportunity to look at our waste images has a great impact as they are even easier to understand than numbers. It helped us understand the quality of the food on the given day but also reveal savings opportunities within food trimmings for example.
Images also prompts team members to think more creatively about the ingredients. We can see them coming up with new ideas on how to repurpose perfectly good items and reuse them in a different dish. We are now creating delicious bread pudding from the leftover croissants that is very popular among kids for example.
Has this changed the behaviour of your team in any way?
By converting food waste into numbers and data, it is easy for anyone to understand. The team's awareness of food waste is definitely heading in the right direction.
How does Winnow inspire you to be smarter about how to use your product?
We pay a lot of attention to make sure the shape of the vegetables and fruits are perfect. However thanks to the images we are receiving from Winnow, we have realised that we create quite a lot of unnecessary trimmings waste. We are now paying more attention to how we cut these to make sure we reduce unnecessary waste. When we have trimmings that we could not avoid we use it to prepare soups and vegetable stock.
How do you see your F&B operation becoming more sustainable in the future?
We are focused on integrating environmental and social considerations into our sourcing practices. This includes increasing our sourcing of certified sustainable products. For example, at Hilton Tokyo Bay, 30% of our seafood is MSC certified and we are working on increasing this percentage. We are also reducing unnecessary single-use plastic items in our operation and switching to biodegradable products.
Do you think food waste should be high on the agenda of chefs? Why?
Food waste should be considered as a serious issue for a kitchen team. Until now, we have focused on providing delicious food. I feel that chefs are now also responsible to contribute to a more sustainable planet through educating the kitchen team about meals and ingredients. Being a chef means also being responsible for the ingredients and making sure we make the most out of them rather than let them go to waste. It just makes environmental and economic sense.
What would you say to chefs who think that they don’t have any waste?
Chefs who say they do not have any food waste just do not have visibility on it. I manage ingredients every day and I can tell that it is impossible to reduce your food waste to zero but by being creative, we can get quite close to that. We have the power to come up with new dishes and rework ingredients. This power should be used to work towards a more sustainable future where ingredients are well used and respected.