IHG Uses AI To Track and Reduce Food Waste in Hotels

Food waste

InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) has announced a partnership with technology company Winnow to help its hotels automatically track, measure, and reduce food waste for more sustainable and efficient restaurant and bar operations.

IHG is the first global hotel company to use the Winnow Vision AI-enabled technology, which is expected to help its hotels achieve a 30 percent reduction in food waste. Through the use of an intelligent camera, smart scales, and AI-based smart meter technology, Winnow Vision analyses ingredients during food preparation, as well as plates returned to the kitchen, to assess which food items are most wasted and in what quantities. This builds up a bank of data which in turn informs buying decisions, shapes menus, and hones food preparation techniques.

Winnow’s technology has been successfully installed in seven IHG hotels in its Europe, Middle East, Asia & Africa (EMEAA) region, with installation due in a further 30 properties in the coming months. In six months, the InterContinental Fujairah Resort, UAE, has been able to reduce food waste by more than 50 percent. Sixty more hotels in the EMEAA region have expressed their interest in signing up to the technology and IHG is currently exploring rollout to its other two regions—the Americas and Greater China.

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The announcement comes on World Sustainable Gastronomy Day, which raises awareness on the role gastronomy can play in contributing to sustainable development, in support of the United Nations’ 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

“With more than 5,600 hotels right across the world, a commitment to operating responsibly is at the heart of all we do,” Kenneth Macpherson, CEO, EMEAA, IHG, said. “We know there’s always more that can be done to make a greater difference—whether that’s minimizing waste through the removal of plastic straws or introducing innovative technology to reduce our environmental impact. Our partnership with Winnow will help our hotels be smarter and savvier in their approach to creating compelling menus that result in less waste whether it’s a grab-and-go breakfast, a family restaurant, or a Michelin dining experience. I’m delighted that this is being led by some of our hotels in the Middle East, who are already seeing significant food waste reductions, and I’m looking forward to seeing this technology take off in more and more of our hotels around the world.”

“Food waste is a global issue, and one that kitchens around the world are struggling with,” Marc Zornes, founder and CEO, Winnow, said. “Without visibility into what is being wasted, kitchens are wasting far more food than they think. It is a privilege to work with such a forward-thinking hospitality chain as IHG and help them become the first global hotel brand to significantly reduce food waste globally by using artificial intelligence while improving their responsible processes in their food and beverages offer.”

This partnership builds on IHG’s commitment to minimize waste across all of its hotel estate and operations, beginning with its IHG Green Engage system, an online sustainability program, which recommends ways for IHG branded hotels worldwide to manage their waste more effectively. This includes guidance on how hotels can handle, store, recycle, and dispose of waste both on and off-site, to minimize environmental impact and costs.