In an industry where every detail counts, the management of food waste stands as a crucial aspect of sustainable operations. Hilton, in a groundbreaking collaboration with Ne'ma (the national food waste initiative of the UAE), the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) West Asia and Winnow, has set a new benchmark with its Green Breakfast initiative. This blog delves into the project's highlights, its objectives, and the transformative insights gained from Winnow's data, offering valuable lessons for hospitality leaders.
Almost every hotel in the world serves breakfast and buffet service styles are often necessary to serve large numbers of guests in a short time period. The Green Breakfast initiative aimed to address three primary barriers to food waste reduction: lack of awareness, unhelpful social norms, and misaligned incentives. By collecting and analyzing consumer behavior data, the project sought to implement scalable, meaningful corrective actions, not just within Hilton but across the hospitality industry.
At the heart of the initiative was the deployment of waste measurement systems across 13 UAE-based Hilton hotels, who collectively served 1.8m breakfasts annually. Each hotel was equipped with Winnow's AI technology and plate waste systems.
These systems helped gather baseline data on pre-consumer and post-consumer waste, setting the stage for targeted interventions. These included regular review and coaching sessions with culinary teams, daily and weekly waste trend reports to inform production adjustments, optimized buffet designs, reduced plate sizes, strategic communication nudges, and comprehensive staff training.
The results of the Green Breakfast initiative were nothing short of remarkable:
- A 62% reduction in overall food waste, translating into significant annualized savings in meals and CO2 emissions.
- Pre-consumer waste saw a dramatic 76% reduction, while post-consumer waste decreased by 55%.
- Bread and pastries emerged as the most wasted items post-consumer, leading to specific interventions like portion and size reductions.
Winnow's role in providing data-driven insights was pivotal. The data revealed critical waste trends, enabling Hilton to implement effective strategies such as batch cooking, surplus redistribution, and encouraging guests to take pastries in doggy bags. The insights also highlighted the challenges of diverse guest profiles and the effectiveness of communication strategies.
The project distilled several best practices in food waste management:
Staff training on efficient food preparation, menu adjustments to decrease high-waste items, and operational efficiencies like batch cooking and made-to-order cooking approaches. Reducing portion sizes, using smaller plates, and engaging consumers with options like doggy bags were also key strategies.
Hilton's Green Breakfast initiative, in partnership with Winnow and other stakeholders, demonstrates the power of collaborative, data-driven approaches in tackling food waste in the hospitality sector. The project not only achieved significant waste reduction but also paved the way for broader industry adoption of sustainable practices.
For hospitality leaders, these insights and strategies offer a roadmap to implement similar initiatives, driving the industry towards a more sustainable, responsible future.