Many in business are familiar with the phrase, “you can’t manage what you can’t measure.” After observing restaurants struggling to monitor their wasted food and reasons for product loss, Phood created a new tool to help businesses track and improve food inventory management. According to Green Biz, Phood has drawn on artificial intelligence technology to develop PhoodX: a scale and camera system that can identify and recommend changes to reduce wasted food. Before discarding leftovers or trim waste, kitchen staff weigh and track each item in the PhoodX system. Within a few seconds the camera can identify specific products, providing data about what items were discarded and why. Waste tracking data can be powerful, informing managers about opportunities to reduce excess through modifications in ordering practices, menu selections, and skills training.
Food service operations that sell prepared food products by weight, such as businesses and institutions with cafeterias or supermarkets, may be well suited for this type of technology. In Massachusetts for example, Whole Foods is using the PhoodX system at certain store locations. Phood CEO Luc Dang notes that the product can cut wasted food by up to 50% and reduce staff time in the kitchen, saving customers up to 10% on the cost of food inventory each year. With the information from this tool, managers have access to data that helps them identify and eliminate the root causes of waste – from over-ordering to over-production.
Preventing food waste at the source is the top priority according to the EPA Food Recovery Hierarchy. There are a number of tools and resources available to businesses seeking to measure their food waste:
- RecyclingWorks in Massachusetts (RecyclingWorks) has created Source Reduction Best Management Practices that include no-cost recommendations for preventing food waste, as well as links to companies that offer food waste tracking and prevention technologies such as Leanpath, Phood, and Winnow.
- The Food Waste Estimation Guide created by RecyclingWorks helps businesses project their potential food waste generation based on industry data.
- The National Restaurant Association has created a Food Waste Calculator – a downloadable spreadsheet to support decision-making for product ordering while taking waste into consideration.
RecyclingWorks assists businesses and institutions with waste prevention, reuse, recycling, and food recovery. To speak to a recycling expert, call our hotline: (888) 254-5525 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.