Food Service Consumption

LOWINFOOD implementations in the food service consumption sector

LOWINFOOD commitment in the food service consumption sector

LOWINFOOD is aimed at reducing the waste of all food products at the consumption stage, with a particular focus on perishable foods. This will be done by testing, improving and demonstrating six different innovations

To this end, LOWINFOOD has focused on three target groups: food service companies (e.g. business and school caterers, restaurants); pupils and teachers at schools, and individual consumers.

Among the innovations, five of them are technological innovations envisaged for forecasting, waste tracking, managing food provisions and selling restaurants’ surplus food. The last one is an educational approach against food waste to be implemented in schools.

Innovations being tested and improved in LOWINFOOD for out-of-home consumption

9-Smart bin restaurants

Smart bin for restaurants’ and hotels’ kitchen

KITRO provides restaurants, canteens and hotels with a fully automated food waste management solution. By combining image processing and deep-learning technologies with a hardware solution, relevant information on the food being thrown away is captured and analysed. This empowers food services to make informed decisions and optimize work practices leading to a reduction in food waste, food cost and their negative environmental impact.

Kitro is being implemented in user kitchens in Germany (Berlin, Braunlage Harz
region), Switzerland (Zurich) and Greece.

In the last few months, they have completed the demonstration phase in two
facilities and have conducted interviews to find out the kitchen managers’
experience with this innovation. Waste data has been received from Kitro and
the data is now being cleaned and statistics calculated. In the coming months,
the demonstration phase will be completed at all user facilities. In the meantime,
the first results show how Kitro has improved over the course of the project.

10-Restaurants demand forecast

Technological innovation to better forecast meals in food service

Mitakus is forecasting software for restaurants allowing them to reduce the preparation of surplus food. It provides accurate forecasts and menu recommendations with the help of an artificial intelligence algorithm. This is particularly important for commercial kitchens and restaurants that increasingly use fresh and perishable ingredients. It is expected to reduce the preparation of surplus food and overstocking, thus preventing the waste of raw and prepared food, making restaurants more profitable and sustainable.

Mitakus is being implemented in Germany (Dortmund, Soest) and Sweden (Uppsala).

In the last months, Mitakus has worked on improving the data export from the users and the forecast has been improved by using different models. Over the next months, Mitakus’ forecasts are expected to become more accurate than those of the kitchen staff, so kitchens will be using them on a daily basis. It is appreciated that by continuously collecting and using data, the forecast is improving every week. Therefore, Mitakus wants to increase the number of weeks covered by the forecast.

11-Plate waste tracker schools

Plate waste tracker for school canteens

The plate waste tracker is a technological innovation developed by the Matomatic company, consisting of a smart scale, giving primary school pupils feedback on how much plate waste they generate. It is able to give pupils a prompt communication about the quantity of food they are leaving on their plate, and also allows children to provide feedback to the canteen staff on why they wasted food.

The plate waste tracker has been implemented in Sweden, Germany, and Austria. The testing in Germany and Austria has been finished whereas in Sweden the schools continue using it. In the next months, the implementation and testing will be completed in Germany and Austria. In this phase, a lot has been learned about setting up remote assistance, which works very well.

12-Education schools

Educational approach against food waste at schools

An innovative approach will be arranged against food waste at school canteens, which will involve pupils, teachers and kitchen staff: the educational meals. Some educational activities will be carried out focused on raising the awareness of the food waste issue, to foster its reduction. There are several teaching materials about food waste aimed to be used at schools, and they will be adjusted to be suitable for education meals, that is, to be used during meals.

The educational concept is being implemented in Sweden and Austria. In the case of Sweden in the municipality of Uppsala 5 primary schools participated during the spring term of 2022. In Austria (Vienna, Lower Austria, Upper Austria, Tyrol, Styria) so far 5 secondary schools in the following municipalities have participated: Graz, Vöcklabruck, Vienna (2) and Bad Ischl.

In Sweden, this innovation was embedded into the curricula. In addition, school mealtimes were also included in the curricula, where teachers and pupils shared school meals together.

The implementation of the innovation involved teaching pupils about e.g. food waste during regular lessons and during school meals by applying different materials and methods for workshop formats. The general approach for the teachers was to give lessons teaching about food, food waste, health, and the environment prior to mealtimes, and then link the learnings to the school meals by talking about these topics during and in class after meals.

Before the meals, the teachers could for instance present the menu of the day and talk about the cultural origin of the specific meal or explain how the school meal, in general, relates to the sustainable development goals (SDGs). This could then during the meals be followed up by the teachers speaking about the benefits of the school meal and encouraging the pupils to take responsibility for their own health and the environment through their choice of food. After the meals when the pupils were back in the classroom, the teachers could ask the pupils what they thought about the meal or if any questions came up during the meal that they would like to discuss.

In Austria, a 2-stage workshop format was created, where together with teachers, pupils and Michelin-star chefs the reasons, impacts and solutions for food waste were presented and discussed.

In the first step, input was given by researchers from the Austrian Institute of Ecology about the amounts of food waste created by our food value chains from farmers to consumers. The presentation also gave information on the shares of the different value-chain actors, the anchoring of food waste in the United Nations SDGs, and possible solutions for food waste.

In the second step the teachers, pupils, and researchers, led by a professional chef, tried to cook as much food as possible out of a set grocery basket while wasting as little as possible. The activity spurred discussion on reasons for and everyday solutions to food waste. The workshop ends with a shared lunch where the activities and inputs can be recapitulated and general questions can be asked.