Who would have thought there’s money in measuring how much food a professional kitchen throws away? Food waste smart meter maker Winnow has bagged a further $3.3 million in funding.
Investors in what the startup is talking up as an “oversubscribed” Series A round include previous backers Mustard Seed, and Axel Johnson’s digital venture capital fund D:Ax, along with a number of private investors. The London-based company plans to use the new finance to further develop the product and expand, including globally. It recently opened a new office in Singapore to serve the Asia-Pacific market.
As we noted when Winnow raised its seed round, the startup is on a mission to help the hospitality industry cut down on food waste by making the kitchen ‘smarter.’ It does this via the Winnow smart meter, a set of smart scales and accompanying tablet app that lets kitchen staff easily log what food is thrown away. That data is then uploaded to the cloud, analysed by Winnow’s algorithm, and disseminated so that food waste can be reduced.
Launched back in May 2013, the startup says it’s already working with over 200 kitchens, name-checking clients such as Compass Group, Accor Hotels and River Cottage Canteens. But more to the point it claims that those clients have typically seen a 30-60 percent uplift in food profitability by reducing food costs, i.e. throwing less food away. Yes, there’s money in those rotten vegetables.
Replacing the traditional way that chefs record food waste — pen and paper — the Winnow smart meter comprises a set of scales that sits under the kitchen’s bin and connects to a tablet running the Winnow app via Bluetooth.
Kitchen staff then throws waste away as usual but uses the app to log the waste via tapping on predefined food categories. The food waste data is then uploaded to Winnow’s cloud analytics platform where it is aggregated and analysed.
Finally, daily reports are sent to chefs via email detailing the top areas of waste by value giving them the insight needed to make adjustments to their operations which, Winnow claims, add up to significant savings.
The timing of this Series A round looks good, too, as food waste has become more of a hot topic, both for consumers, as well as the industry/governments. In December, France banned supermarkets from wasting food, while here in the U.K. the BBC recently shone a light on the topic with the TV show Hugh’s War on Waste.