The power in a picture of your trash: Winnow at Skift's Data + AI Summit

Posted by Claudia Light / 24-Jun-2024


Winnow were honoured to be invited to speak at Skift’s Data + AI Summit this June, the first conference from the platform to focus on how data and artificial intelligence are transforming the travel industry. Our founder Marc Zornes took to the stage to share how Winnow leverages computer vision and the power of pictures to tackle the global challenge of food waste. 

Watch the recording below or read on for highlights.


Too valuable to waste: the economic implications of food waste

Understanding the scale of food waste is crucial. Marc highlighted that approximately a third of all food produced globally is discarded, contributing to about 10% of global greenhouse gas emissions. The economic implications are equally staggering, with the U.S. food service industry alone discarding $138 billion worth of food annually. With this context the impetus to reduce food waste shifts: the financial opportunity is huge. So how can data and AI help us to unlock this? 

The power of data in food waste reduction

Winnow Vision, Winnow’s flagship product, uses advanced AI and data analytics to monitor food waste trends in commercial kitchens. Trained on a growing database of over 327,000,000 images of food waste, our Vision technology automatically recognises food items as they are thrown away. Weight and cost data is also captured, and kitchens are then provided with actionable insights on what food they are wasting - and where. 

Real-world applications and success stories

Food waste is undisputedly a huge challenge for the travel industry. In a world where the guest experience must always be put first, resource efficiency is easily sidelined. Speaking to Skift, Marc unpicked two common problem areas for this: the hotel breakfast, and the all-inclusive resort. Each comes with an expectation of value for money, with guests looking for an abundance of choice and quality. 

However, looking at real-world examples from Winnow partners, Marc shared how data can empower food waste reduction strategies which elevate rather than compromise on guest experience. 

Take Hilton, for example, who analysed breakfast waste data from 13 of their hotels in the UAE. With pastry waste emerging as a clear trend Hilton calculated the optimum size for a croissant, enabling guests to try various flavours without the waste. Combined with other strategies throughout the production line, waste was reduced across the 13 hotels by 62% in 4 months.  

Meanwhile with resorts, Iberostar cut food waste by 28% in the first 6 months of working with Winnow’s technology, the equivalent of 735,000 meals. The money saved is reinvested into conservation initiatives and food quality, further enhancing the guest experience. 

Demonstrating financial impact

Returning to the pure value of reducing food waste, Marc closed his talk by touching on how integrating food waste data into the P&L statement helps businesses to see financial benefits directly. By highlighting food waste costs alongside food expenses, users can identify significant savings opportunities, typically ranging from 2% to 10% in food costs. 
Safe to say it’s a value recognised by a growing proportion of the hospitality industry, with Winnow’s technology now in over 2700 locations in 85 countries worldwide. 

If you’re interested in learning more about how data and AI can help you to run a more profitable and sustainable kitchen by cutting food waste, watch Marc’s full talk here

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