Winnow CEO Marc Zornes has admitted the company’s new ‘game-changing’ artificial intelligence food waste management product was always the one he had in mind when he founded the company six years ago – but back then the field of computer vision was simply not developed enough to make it a commercial reality.
Extensive undercover testing over the last two years has finally allowed the firm to bring ‘Winnow Vision’ to market, allowing operators to automate their food waste through the use of AI.
Writing in his online blog, Mr Zornes described the launch as a “landmark moment” for the business and a “game-changer” in the hospitality industry’s fight against food waste on a global scale.
“Automation reduces the barriers to entry for thousands of kitchens around the world. Once fully trained, there will be no need for recurring staff training or data input. Kitchens only need to throw away food to receive insight that pinpoints what has been wasted and in what volume,” he stated.
The firm has been testing Winnow Vision in the field with its two launch partners Ikea and Emaar Hospitality Group
since late 2017. At Ikea the system is already live in every store across the UK.
“This is a big moment for us as a team, but it is also a significant point in time for all commercial kitchens around the world. This is the first time AI enters the kitchen at scale, and this development promises the most accurate food waste data possible.
“During the extensive testing we’ve done in recent months, we’ve reached some major milestones. Most importantly, Winnow Vision can now guess what has been thrown in the bin more reliably than busy kitchen teams. In fact, we now guess the right food at the first attempt 80% of the time.
“As Winnow Vision gains more image data, accuracy will only get stronger over time. Our current level of accuracy represents the fulfilment of our initial ambitions for this project. Now we’re there, we want to go further.”
At the World Economic Forum in Davos in January, Winnow picked up the Tech Disruptor 2019 award and now Mr Zornes says the company is at a stage where the testing and refining is complete and it is ready to deploy at scale around the world.
“To be perfectly truthful, this is the product I had in mind when we founded the company in 2013. However, the field of computer vision was simply not developed enough then. So we built the product we could: Winnow Waste Monitor – which has been hugely successful in helping businesses cut their food waste in half.
“Looking back to 2013, I am actually glad that we were prevented from building Winnow Vision then. Firstly, because we’ve grown together with a host of wonderful clients like IKEA, Compass Group, Costa Cruises, Accor Hotels – and many more. In over 1,000 kitchens in 40 countries, together we save one meal from the bin every two seconds.
“And in terms of the product itself, what we would have built six years ago would not be anywhere near as good as what we have engineered today. We have learned countless lessons from the kitchens along the way. And it is these lessons that are built into the design of Winnow Vision itself. I, for one, am incredibly proud of what we have built.”
The company estimates that its systems saving £40m a year by reducing food waste. With the launch of Winnow Vision, its new goal is to save £1.3 billion per year by 2025.