Why is Lightspeed powering the low waste cafe and OzHarvest?
OzHarvest’s mission of zero food waste is deeply aligned with Lightspeed’s purpose as a company. While OzHarvest focuses more on the home, our expertise is in the food-service industry so it’s a natural fit. We know how big an issue food waste is and we want to share our expertise with others to help minimise it.
Why is the issue of food waste so important to Lightspeed?
It goes back to the very reason we started Lightspeed. Eliminating waste in business is something every single one of our customers wants, as it directly affects their bottom line. Without good technology, however, it’s impossible to know where to even start. Inefficiencies in old systems and technologies create unnecessary waste, frustration and expense. The point of sale is where a lot of this inefficiency originates – for businesses, for the customers they serve and the world at large – and this is also where we can create the most significant impact.
Eliminating all forms of waste is part of Lightspeed’s DNA.
How does Australia rate with the rest of the world when it comes to low waste business and how can we improve?
We’re fortunate to live in the bounteous paradise that we do where food is plentiful but therefore also disposable. In older cultures like Africa or Europe they understand the value of food much more and this understanding is ingrained in their consumer habits. We need to learn and be inspired by countries like France which recently introduced a law that prohibits supermarkets throwing away edible food, that may take some time to get actualise, but it certainly shows commitment to the cause.
We can follow such examples by making waste a key performance indicator in business.
Weigh your food waste every day and track that figure. Incentivise your kitchen team to keep that number low. If you know you’re holding too much product, there are things you can do. Put a special on, do a small sales competition with your floor team, or simply cook it for staff meal, but to do that you need to have visibility on all your stock; when it’s coming in, how fast it’s moving, and how much you’ve got on hand. If you can’t easily track and access that information, you can’t make waste visible, and that’s the first step to eliminating it. Oh and make your menus smaller!
What are the challenges the Australian hospitality industry faces with regards to taking on their low waste responsibilities?
The West spent most of the 20th century trying to make the food chain invisible to consumers, so there’s a lot of cultural inertia in the dining public which the industry will need to overcome.
Culturally, we have unrealistic expectations about food, believing everything’s always available, everything looks perfect and the same and that you mustn’t touch it after its best by date. These beliefs are what’s causing wasteful practices.
To overcome these challenges we’re going to need to eat a wider variety of foods, but have smaller menus. We’re going to need to be more localised, meaning more suppliers with smaller ranges. And we need to educate people regarding the entire chain of systems that results in the food on the plate in front of them.
It’s up to the hospitality industry to use our influence and expertise to lead the public in strengthening that understanding through connecting the people and businesses at every step of the way so that the whole food system can be more efficient.
How is Lightspeed helping to achieve this and what is Lightspeed’s vision for the future of food and tech?
The people who will succeed and lead us through these challenges need the appropriate tools. Our technology connects the supply, production and sales processes in a central platform. This means the whole food chain in your business can be monitored for waste.
As for the future, we’ll soon see new applications of technologies like facial recognition, machine learning and 3D printing that will make possible entirely new business models, as well as a flurry of experimentation and differentiation as these possibilities are explored. This tech will make it easier for business owners to do what they love – create great experiences for people – which is why they got into the business in the first place.
As for Lightspeed, it’s always going to come back to empowering the humans in the business.