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Sustainability: The Foodservice and Hospitality Trend That’s Here to Stay

Posted on Wednesday 13 April 2016

Since the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) were adopted across the world in September 2015, every individual and business now has a part to play in helping to reach those sustainability goals by 2030. The goals include the promotion of sustainable agriculture, consumption and production patterns, in addition to improved nutrition, food security, and the end of hunger.

What this has meant for the foodservice and hospitality industry is that sustainable practices are no longer optional for their business, or a ‘trend’ for them to follow to impress and entice customers; they are now a crucial consideration for businesses that offer many benefits to their bottom lines too.

In the foodservice and hospitality industry, waste is one of the major ways in which businesses fail time and time again to play their part in being sustainable. According to Winnow Solutions, the creators of the Winnow System, an innovative technology to cut restaurant food waste in half, foodservice businesses in the UK are currently wasting as much money on thrown-away food as they are making in net profits.

Of course, it’s not just an issue in the UK. Marc Zornes, the founder of Winnow Solutions has discovered that around a third of all food grown ends up being wasted, at a cost of $750billion each year. Not only is that terrible news for the planet, it’s bad for the businesses themselves too; though of course, no business likes to think that they’re only one step away from literally throwing away their money.

Sustainability has become such a huge talking point in the foodservice business in recent years, and restaurants - influenced by their customers’ demands, which you can hear more about in the Love Food Hate Waste video below - have made conscious efforts and contributions. These include purchasing seasonally and from local farmers and food producers, reducing their energy use and making a commitment to recycling, but it’s become clear that more needs to be done to address the issue of food waste.

The Waste and Resources Action Programme charity, also known as WRAP, has introduced the Hospitality and Food Service Agreement, a voluntary agreement to support the industry in cutting their waste and increasing recycling. The agreement is open to businesses of any size and has several targets, but simply signing up isn’t enough to make a difference – businesses need to know how to identify their food waste problem in order to make changes, and become part of the solution.

A real-time solution to food waste

We all know that the kitchens of restaurants and foodservice businesses can be extremely busy, and that paying attention to sustainability isn’t always the priority. However, Winnow has declared that sustainability is one of the three key trends that will affect the foodservice and hospitality industry the most in 2016. While we have already established that sustainability is no longer a ‘trend’, it’s currently at the forefront of consumers’ minds as they consciously choose to spend their money with businesses that are committed to being more sustainable.

What are necessary are easy to solutions to sustainability that all members of staff can be responsible for and understand. This is the issue that the Winnow System addresses, as it works to help restaurants and foodservice businesses tackle their food waste issue right where it counts: the bin itself.

As you can see in the video below, the Winnow System ‘smart meter’ is ingeniously simple. Installed at the kitchen bin, it automatically monitors the weight and cost of every item of food or ingredient that is being thrown away, as staff input via touchscreen the type of food that is being discarded.

By showing the actual value of the food that is being wasted, restaurant staff are given greater visibility over their food waste and empowered to make the changes necessary to reduce it. And most importantly it works; on average, Winnow helps to increase food gross margins by 2-6 percentage points, but of course, the benefits go way beyond just the financial, shrinking your businesses’ environmental footprint at the same time.

If you have already incorporated the Winnow System into your kitchen, we would love to hear about the results that you have seen – leave us a comment below to tell us more. And don’t forget to tell us about the other ways that you have made your business more sustainable; are there any opportunities to improve that you believe foodservice businesses often miss?