A decade ago, Winnow’s co-founders Marc Zornes and Kevin Duffy embarked on a mission to tackle the staggering $1 trillion global food waste challenge. Their vision was fuelled by the alarming statistic that over $100 billion worth of food is wasted annually in the hospitality sector alone.
Food waste is a pressing issue, with approximately one-third of all food produced for human consumption being lost or wasted (WFP, 2020). This wastefulness contributes to deforestation, depletes natural resources, and accounts for about 8-10% of global CO2 emissions (UNEP, 2021), exacerbating the adverse effects of climate change.
Winnow has been at the forefront of the fight against food waste, developing an AI-powered solution that leads the market. Leveraging the capabilities of computer vision, Winnow’s innovative technology identifies wasted food items in real-time. Its powerful analytics tools help teams pinpoint areas of waste, providing valuable insights to make operational improvements and cut food waste by up to half.
The impact of reducing food waste is substantial, particularly in commercial kitchens where 5-15% of food is typically wasted. By rescuing food from being discarded, Winnow’s solution has profound effects on businesses’ bottom lines, with an impressive 2x-10x return on investment in the first year. Research by the World Resources Institute reveals that hotels, on average, save $7 for every $1 invested in reducing food waste.
Over the past decade, Winnow’s efforts have prevented $174 million worth of food from going to waste, leading to a reduction of 217,000 tonnes of carbon emissions. To put this into perspective, this is equivalent to the energy use of 27,349 homes in a year or saving a meal from landfill every second. Their impact spans over 60 countries and is delivered in more than 20 languages.
Winnow’s commitment to combatting food waste has garnered collaborations with industry giants like Compass, Hilton, ISS, Iberostar, and Marriott. Their groundbreaking partnership with IKEA led to the halving of food waste globally within a major foodservice business, resulting in $37 million in savings. This achievement aligns with the UN’s Sustainable Development Goal 12.3, which aims to halve food waste per capita globally.
To build a global movement of chefs fighting food waste, Winnow understands the need to raise awareness about this critical issue. Over the years, they have engaged with governments worldwide and presented their cause at prominent events such as the World Economic Forum and COP.
Looking ahead, Winnow’s fight against food waste is only getting stronger. With a recent funding raise of $10 million, the company is set to further develop its industry-leading technology, advance AI capabilities, enhance insights, and create additional tools for clients. The work to address the climate emergency is far from over, and Winnow has set an ambitious goal to reduce $1 billion in food waste by the end of the decade.
As Winnow celebrates its 10th anniversary, it stands as a testament to the power of innovation, empathy, and collaboration in addressing one of the world’s most pressing challenges. Through their tireless efforts, they have proven that every meal saved from waste makes a significant difference in building a more sustainable and responsible future.
- 5 facts about food waste and hunger: World Food Programme (2020) UN World Food Programme. Available at: https://www.wfp.org/stories/5-facts-about-food-waste-and-hunger (Accessed: 27 July 2023).
- Food Waste Index Report 2021 (2021) UNEP. Available at: www.unep.org/resources/report/unep-food-waste-index-report-2021 (Accessed: 27 July 2023).