Technology vs Food Waste: Battle of the Titans
Research by USDA estimates that over 30% of food products in the US are thrown away, at the cost of over $161 billion annually, without taking environmental costs into account. Worldwide, the figure is estimated at over $1 trillion annually.
Food waste has been a talking point for many years. Initiatives to reduce wastage in the past have been held up by incomplete or outdated data, but with the proliferation of mobile phones in the marketplace and widespread data coverage, these issues are fast becoming a thing of the past.
Food waste is characterized as the deliberate act of discarding excess food, throwing food away or allowing food to spoil. The term is used once the food reaches the consumer, whereas food waste that occurs from the farmer to the consumer is usually termed ‘food loss’.
Recently, there has been rapid growth in digital tech aimed at reducing food waste. Tech startups are changing the food industry, with five companies leading the way in different areas from reducing food waste in the hospitality industry through better data, to apps that connect shops and food manufacturers with end consumers and charities.
Winnow (Hospitality Industry, UK)
UK-based company Winnow is making significant strides in reducing food wastage in the hospitality industry. Co-founded by Zornes, a former food consultant, their smart tech business targets the $100 billion lost annually to food waste in the hospitality industry.
Winnow’s technology uses a scale that weighs the food waste bins coupled with a touchscreen that allows kitchen staff to input the type of food being thrown away. The smart tech then evaluates the value of the waste measuring the monetary and environmental cost. The findings are then made available to the chef who can take these figures into account when planning menus and setting up their kitchen to run more efficiently. This allows them to cut food wastage by between 40 and 70 percent.
Winnow has a client base that includes contract catering giant Compass Group, the hotel chain Accor and Ikea who have restaurants in many of their stores. Through implementing Winnow’s technology, Ikea has reduced food wastage significantly, saving the equivalent of 350 000 meals across its in-store restaurants over an eight-month period. One store was able to reduce their waste by 40% (a saving of $120 000 in one year).
NoFoodWasted, (Hospitality and Food Shopping, The Netherlands)
NoFoodWasted, a Dutch startup, has also released an app that lists discounted products approaching their expiry date. To date, two hundred Dutch supermarkets and over 40 000 consumers have signed up for the app. On a daily basis there are 22 000 users that log in to the app and analytics (date from the app) has helped participating retailers to cut monthly food waste by almost $3000.
Ovie (Kitchen Technology, US)
US households throw out about 150 000 tons of food every day (equivalent to one-third of an American’s daily calorie consumption). Fruit and vegetables are the most likely to be wasted, followed by dairy and then meat. But there are new, innovative products such as Ovie’s kitchen tech that are turning regular fridges into smart tech that promise to help consumers reduce food waste while saving money.
Ovie is a fast developing startup that recognized that most households don’t have smart fridges, so their solution is to make an existing fridge smarter. Ovie is a set of food containers that are fitted with a “smart tag” which tracks food freshness and uses Bluetooth technology to connect with Alexa. Each tag has a light that changes color, from green to yellow to red, depending on the freshness of the food. The tags are detachable and can be used with existing food containers or clipped on to fresh fruit and vegetables.
The startup has developed quickly, from a simple light system to a fully integrated solution complete with reminders, recipes and shopping suggestions.
FoodCloud (Charity, Ireland)
FoodCloud has developed an app connecting food retailers with charities and have signed up over 1900 UK and Ireland-based food manufacturers, farms, and supermarkets who now upload excess food available for donation. This allows for the mobilization of food — moving it to where it is most needed. The app is used by over 3600 local charities who receive notifications on the app when food is available and ready for collection. These charities include breakfast clubs, homeless hostels or family support services. FoodCloud has helped to redistribute over 20 million meals in the UK and Ireland.
Technological developments are helping people all around the world reduce food wastage. Large restaurants and catering companies are implementing Winnow’s waste reduction technology. Shops are plugging into the startup apps like NoFoodWasted to ensure that food is no longer thrown away but made available to end consumers. And the end consumer is also able to take ownership of their waste production by using smart apps to buy food and implementing kitchen tech from Ovie to reduce spoilage. FoodCloud is allowing charities to tap into available oversupply as well, making a big difference to those in need across Ireland and the UK.
These are exciting developments allowing business owners and end consumers to make changes that will make inroads into the food waste crisis. The information is available and it is now no longer good enough to be wasting one-third of all the food that has been grown for people to eat.
Here at Cravy we are building a platform where restaurants can sell their pre-cooked excess in the form of last-minute deals, while customers will benefit from low prices, discover new places and help the environment. Help us make this a reality by participating in a private token sale or get whitelisted for Pre-ICO. Visit http://cravy.io for more info.