Data crunch helps TV chef slash kitchen waste costs

Hugh-Fearnley-Whittingstall

River Cottage Canteen, the award winning restaurant operated by Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall, claims to have reduced food waste by more than a third with a technological approach to kitchen management.

Food Waste is high up on the national agenda following the BBC series ‘Hugh’s War on Waste’ and over 288,000 people have signed the #wastenot petition campaigning for supermarkets to take action.

River Cottage teamed up with London based technology start-up Winnow on a pilot project to cut food waste in its Winchester restaurant. The smart meter helps chefs measure and manage food waste by recording what’s thrown in the bin.

Using Winnow’s smart meter the team at River Cottage Canteen Winchester have seen pre-consumer food waste reduced by 33% over a two-month period – equivalent to 6 tonnes a year.

In the kitchen the team used the Winnow system to create a league table to foster friendly competition between staff. Data from Winnow’s reporting highlighted where changes could be made to operations.

Citrus peels are being now being salted and preserved or candied, burger buns have been reduced in size and the recipe adjusted, and unrecoverable vegetable trimmings are now collected by a local organic farm to be turned into compost.

The results of the pilot have now been shared with the other three River Cottage Canteens who are in the process of making similar changes.

Fearnley Whittingstall said: “Food waste is an issue that affects all kitchens, and inevitably we’re often too busy to understand what is being wasted and why. Winnow’s smart meter has helped us measure where food is wasted in our restaurant, and quickly points us to areas we can make changes. The River Cottage team was quick to buy into the project, and to feel the benefits: in less than three months, we’ve already reduced waste by third by value.”

Fearnley Whittingstall said the intention is to drive waste down even further. “It’s clear that many others in our sector could benefit from using Winnow to reduce their waste and costs. It’s a real no-brainer for the hospitality industry,” he commented.

Marc Zornes, Winnow CEO and founder added: “Having worked in over 200 kitchens we’ve consistently seen waste cut in half, increasing profitability while doing the right thing for the environment at the same time. The results at River Cottage is testimony to the opportunity facing the whole hospitality sector.”

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