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A startup is behind the furniture store's push to stop wasting food. 

Elisabeth Sherman
September 08, 2017

A startup called Winnow is helping Ikea cut down on the amount of food that ends up being thrown in the trash from its restaurants by showing chefs how much food they're wasting as they prepare meals—and what that waste will end up costing the company.

Winnow estimates that overall, the food industry wastes as much as $100 billion worth of food every year, according to CNN Money. So far, Ikea estimates that it has saved at least 350,000 meals worth around $900,000 since implementing Winnow's technology last December. Ikea is using Winnow at 70 of its stores and plans to introduce it to all 400 stores in the next two years.

Investors who support companies that have a “measurable environmental or social impact,” which shouldn’t be hard for Winnow, have funded the startup. The company’s technology could help restaurants reduce their carbon footprint by helping them cut down on food waste.

Winnow, as Food & Wine has previously reported, is a “smart scale,” which allows chefs to more accurately measure how much of a certain product they’ll need to use. The scale weighs the food that ends up in the trash, while, via a tablet, the kitchen staff tells Winnow which foods are being tossed. As they enter that information, the tablet calculates how much their waste costs over a year, as well the environmental impact of that waste.

Winnow should be able to save chefs as much eight percent on food costs by helping them learn how much of certain product to buy in the first place. The company estimates that as things stand now, many chefs end up wasting as much as 20 percent of the food they buy, which costs their employers and results in a lot of good food going in the garbage.

"Being able to instantly visualize the waste in weight and convert that into what it means in lost sales is key to us," Ikea spokesperson Ylva Magnusson told CNN Money.  

Winnow claims that its scales have already saved its clients $8 million dollars, a total of 2,600 pounds of food, or 6.5 million meals. It would seem those savings alone make Winnow well worth the investment.