Emirates Flight Catering uses AI to slash food waste by 35%


Airline catering company, Emirates Flight Catering (EKFC), has committed to reducing food waste by 35% across its central operations in Dubai. EKFC hopes to reach this goal through a partnership with Winnow, an artificial intelligence (AI) company, which aims to gradually roll out an advanced food waste management system in the catering facilities. AI and machine learning will be leveraged to enable EKFC to automatically monitor and control food waste.

Around one-third of all food grown in the world goes to waste and landfill. EKFC has already undertaken various initiatives to reducing that wastage. In an effort to use the whole product, in the financial year 2019-20, EFFC saved close to 500kg of food items each day, including fruits, vegetables, bakery items and meat, to be used in small goods, or were reused for different purposes in the company’s retail operations.

EKFC has also been working closely with many of its airline customers to analyse consumption trends and to use predictive data to optimise the loading of F&B for inflight catering. Analysis of on-board data not only reduces waste, but also the fuel burn associated with aircraft carrying excess weight.

The AI-enabled food waste management system will enable EKFC to improve reporting and data collection to further reduce food waste. Using a camera, a set of smart scales and the same type of machine learning technology found in autonomous vehicles, the advanced system ‘learns’ to recognise different foods being thrown in the bin and calculates the financial and environmental cost of this discarded food to the kitchens. EKFC will adjust its food purchasing decisions accordingly.

During the training and automation phases, the Winnow Vision system takes human input, providing a shortlist of possible menu items for kitchen staff to select from and to quickly improve its predictions based on feedback. Over time, the system continues to improve, and Winnow is working for it be able to automatically recognise food, with no human interaction.

Saeed Mohammed, CEO of Emirates Flight Catering said, “We are dedicated to investing in the latest technologies to optimise our operations and minimise our environmental footprint. Food waste management has always been an area of focus for EKFC and we have already achieved remarkable results through improved data collection and reporting.

“Implementing new ways of working, supported by technology, will help us step up to the next level and further enhance operational efficiency. We look forward to delivering on our ambitious goal of reducing food waste by more than one-third across our central operations.”

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Ever since his first flight on a TriStar, Adam has loved air travel, and since becoming editor of the Aircraft Interiors International brand he has really enjoyed the opportunity to be involved with the latest aircraft and airline products before they are even launched. Adam co-ordinates the running of the magazine, from commissioning articles and artwork, to ensuring that high standards of quality are maintained, as well as managing online content. Adam is proud to sit on the jury of the Crystal Cabin Awards and to have laid on the bed in Etihad's Residence.

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