Artificial Intelligence, News, Technology

Battling Against Food Waste With AI

Mimi Sarwar

Mimi Sarwar, Writer

Food waste, climate crisis, human rights and access to justice and education for development are some the pressing global challenges we are facing in today’s world.

As we come together to try and resolve these issues, artificial intelligence (AI) has been paving the way for battling against global food wastage.  

The news is packed with alerts, updates, and statistics on the difficulties we face as global citizens. When it comes to food waste, we are often reminded from the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations about how one-third of food is wasted or lost each year from the farm to the refrigerator, equating to about 1.3 billion tons. This astonishing figure is drummed into us, yet the foodservice sector is one of the least prepared industries when it comes to being digital-ready and onboarding disruptive technologies. 

Nevertheless, over half of the foodservice sector executives surveyed are intending to increase investment in immersive technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI) and computer vision, enabling them to set a credible goal of food waste reduction.

To this point in time, these disruptive technologies have concentrated on enhancing consumers’ experience and customising product offerings which have been beneficial for the outset. It is time for the food industry to take the reins and harness the power of AI in a bid to tackle food waste.

A huge cost to the industry and the environment

No business likes to see a loss so naturally food waste is a huge cost to businesses not to mention amongst the world’s greatest pollutants. The foodservice industry is responsible for 14% of this waste, with up to 60kg of food being discarded daily by an average-sized restaurant, making it an environmental issue. 

According to Wrap, a packaging pressure group, the British hospitality and foodservice sector alone could see an estimated annual loss of £2.5bn from wasted resources making AI a lifeline to help the industry survive the mess and expense of waste.

Cutting-edge AI food waste management tool

In 2019, a British start-up company, Winnow, launched their second product which is a ground-breaking food waste management tool that adopts AI and computer vision to automatically recognise waste food. Winnow Vision is the first time that AI has entered the commercial kitchen environment and supplies more accurate food waste data than humans can. The pioneering technology makes the kitchen environment smarter in a bid to reduce food waste in half, saving an average of $35,000 per year.     

The immersive technology tracks waste that is thrown away, records and recognises the wasted food and analyses the data that is reported from the loss along with the environmental impact, cutting food costs by between 2 to 8%. 

The UX Connections View

Chris SainsburyChris Sainsbury
Managing Director

AI is being deployed in all sorts of new ways – food waste management is just one. At UX Connections we specialise in building interfaces for complex AI and big data. We’ve worked on train systems managing rolling stock with 10,000+ sensors per train, to ensure each carriage gets serviced when needed. We’ve also worked on a hospital management system for allocating beds and creating new efficiencies for doctors and patients alike. If you’d like the perfect interface for your AI, please get in touch.

Hilton Dubai Jumeirah Resort has achieved excellent results saving them $65,000 in reduced food costs and 25,000 meals a year saved from being thrown away using Winnow. Steven Smalley, Cluster Executive Chef of the resort, said: 

“We’ve seen a 70% reduction on waste, and the team has really embraced Winnow. It’s for the chefs’ benefits as well, because they are not wasting their time overproducing food.” 

The start-up has also partnered with Swedish retailer IKEA, which has installed Winnow Vision in all 23 of its stores throughout the UK and Ireland. IKEA says it has cut food waste in half at those outlets and saved 1.2 million meals in 2018.

Food for thought

Even though the food sector has been on the backburner when it comes to adopting technologies to combat food waste, Winnow has stepped in to fight against the global trend of food wastage with cutting-edge AI and computer vision.

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