- Fengmin Gong
Why we started Metafoodx.
Updated: Jan 7
Running a food and beverage operation is incredibly challenging and complex. Operators must freshly prepare varied menus, time batches to meet demand, and manage inventories all while providing an excellent customer experience. That complexity often leads to food waste that is both unsustainable for the planet and a cost burden for operators. The EPA estimated that each year, U.S. food loss and waste produces 170 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent and makes up 24% of all landfill waste.
The root cause of much of this waste is inaccurate production planning. Pound for pound, preventing production of excess food is six to seven times as beneficial as composting or anaerobic digestion of the waste (US EPA 2016). However, to accurately plan how much of each menu item to produce requires tracking of the food consumed. Up until now, that tracking process was too time consuming or inaccurate to create an effective forecast.
Some operators use POS sale report to forecast production but it lacks the actual portions of food components and ingredients used to produce each sale item. Other institutional operators that offer free or meal-plan based service (e.g., schools and corporate cafeterias) may lack any POS data and are depending on staff to provide consumption. The alternative is manual tracking, which is too great a burden for already busy staff. Employees are not excited to stay late after a service to mark down consumption and waste on a clipboard.
However, advances in computer vision and weight sensor technology open new possibilities to automate the tracking process. Cameras and weight sensors seamlessly integrated into existing serve lines and make lines can now automatically track consumption by weight of menu items and ingredients. We can only improve what we can track and the recent advancesprogress in sensor technology marks a key shift in what tracking is possible.
At Metafoodx we developed a solution that brings the benefits of this new technology to food service operators. It uses computer vision, smart sensors, and AI to automatically track consumption and aggregate that data into actionable production recommendations.
The tracking sensors are designed to integrate seamlessly and not disturb operators’ existing setups or processes. Our cloud platform then provides simple and easy to follow production recommendations. Operators save costs both by reducing food waste and the amount of time spent creating an accurate production plan. A 2019 study found that for every $1 invested in reducing food waste, operators saved an average of $7 in costs. Reducing food overproduction was one of the key drivers
Our goal is to empower food service operators with the tracking and planning tools they need to hit their goals in sustainability, cost optimization, employee satisfaction, and customer satisfaction. We're receiving strong interest from both school and corporate cafeterias searching for a solution that lets them track and plan production for large multi-station operations. One large Bay Area University is launching a pilot in early 2023.
The food service industry and our planet deserve the best possible technology to make our food system more sustainable. We can’t wait to start building a better food system with you!