Interview with Marc Zornes
Food waste is a huge problem: roughly 1.3 Billion Tons of the food produced in the world for human consumption every year gets lost or wasted.
It costs the hospitality industry over $100bn annually and the main reason is that chefs too often lack the necessary tools to accurately measure and manage waste.
Marc founded Winnow Solutions with the goal of helping chefs achieve greater visibility in their kitchens and make better decisions that lead to dramatically reduced food waste and costs. The company was nominated in 2016 as one of the best tech startups in London and is part of the top 100 Europe's Hottest startups by WIRED.
Hi Marc, please introduce yourself.
My name is Marc Zornes and I am one of the founders of Winnow. I worked in the food industry my entire life and I founded Winnow after some work that I did at McKinsey & Company, where I led a research on the resource use over the next 20 years and how the food waste was a major issue that no one was looking at. That inspired me to leave McKinsey e found this business. Predominantly I am responsible for business development, making sure that we continue to move forward with the movement.
A year and a half ago you raised 3.3 million € in series A funding. What happened since then and what are your next steps?
Since we raised our last finance round there’ve been a number of progressions of the business. We started to work with IKEA cutting their food waste in half and we have recently signed a major division of Carnival Cruise Lines and Costa Crociere. So business has been really great and growing. We are continuing to invest in our product and potentially we are going to raise additional capital.
What was the moment when you realized that there was so much food waste and you could build a business around this phenomenon?
I was doing some analysis at McKinsey and what we did is to put a cost on all the opportunities for resource productivity. Everything from electric cars to energy efficient buildings to food waste to water efficiency and food waste came up as one of the top 3 opportunities and this was really shocking. The second thing is that i realized that no one was doing something about that problem.
Recently you started your operations in Asia. Why you decided to go in that market after expanding in the UK?
We opened up our offices in Asia because actually we had quite a lot of people demanding us to go to work in Asia. We see ourselves as a solution to a global problem. I think what is exciting about the work we are doing in Asia is proving that this is not just a developed economy solution but it work in any industry and country where there is a significant hospitality market.
You are a food lover. How your passion for food was born? What’s your favourite dish?
As a food lover my real interest is the topic because my father cooked a lot, which inspired me to have a lot of cooking and also because I grown up in the Midwest in the United States, in a place where food is a really important topic and it's part of the economy. It was a choice to enter the food industry, but it's one that really set the path going forward for me and the reason I really like food is that it's such a multifaceted industry to be part of: it's cultural, it's a just part of the economy and has a major impact on the environment. It has also to do with the health and that's what keeps things very interesting. It's also one of the real of the core areas that needs to adjust with sustainability. My favorite dish? It's tough because I have so many! Right now I am cooking a lot of vegetarian dishes, from pad thai to vegetable roast. It's hard to point just at one dish, I love to continue to explore different flavours as long as it's healthy and nourishing.
Roughly 1.3 Billion Tons of the food produced in the world for human consumption every year gets lost or wasted. What is the potential impact of Winnow in reducing this number?
1/3 of the world's food is wasted. In the hospitality industry, which is currently my focus, it's around 10 to 15% of the problem, so we are talking about a 7% of production in that number. That doesn't mean that's where we are going to stop. We have other opportunity on the food supply chain to address this. We are solving 1.3 billion dollar problem in the hospitality industry and even doing that, it's going to put a debt in the overall issue, this is why we need a lot more entrepreneurs and businesses to focus and address on this issue to make a change.