Inverte: Turning food waste upside down

Tracking food portions in real time to better manage food and labour costs and enhance operational consistency

By Sean Tarry

As technology continues to evolve and advance, and the food and beverage industries consistently search for ways to streamline and optimize their operations, their intersect is about set to kickstart a revolution within the kitchen — a robotic one that automates some of the more repetitive tasks within a restaurant, reducing the food waste that’s generated, and significantly decreasing the negative impact that the foodservice sector has on the environment. And, at the leading edge of the kitchen revolution is St. John’s, Nfld.-based company, Inverte.

Leveraging technology to eliminate food waste
Led by Founder and CEO Johan Arcos-Mendez, the company that specializes in intelligent portioning tools conducted more than 100 industry interviews to gain a more comprehensive understanding of the problem of food waste in kitchens and the ways in which it’s created in order to develop the right solution to address it.
“After speaking with a number of different people working in and around the industry in a range of roles and responsibilities, it was clear to me that the No. 1 cause of food waste in restaurants is related to inefficient and wasteful portioning of food ingredients at line stations within the establishment,” he explains. “And, despite the kind of establishment it is, whether casual dining, fine dining, or fast food, the line station type of model is the one that’s universally used. And, because most of them also rely on the same or similar mechanisms to serve and plate food for diners without any way to ensure the correct or proper portioning of food and ingredients, relying instead on bagging inventory ahead of time, there isn’t a reliable and consistent way by which they can control portioning or cost. It’s a major problem within the industry, and one that can prove to be the difference between success and failure for some.”

Intelligent portioning
It’s this combination, explains Arcos-Mendez, of helping to remove waste from our environment and supporting foodservice operators in their quest to optimize their operations and reduce their costs that drives him to do what he does every day. And, with the technology that Inverte has developed, he and his team are able to achieve both goals.
“With our technology, we’re able to help address the two main sources of waste related to portioning among kitchen staff,” he asserts. “Overserving is likely the biggest cause of food waste, as cooks are basically eyeballing the portions of food and ingredients that they’re using, tending to use more rather than less of a serving. The other main culprit behind the problem is that of employee mistakes. When employees in kitchens make mistakes, it’s often the policy of establishments to discard plates that have been assembled wrong or contain the wrong ingredients. Each of these examples results in a significant amount of food waste, and obvious harm to the profitability of the business.”

Digitizing foodservice
In order to help restaurateur and others within the foodservice industry alleviate this problem, Arcos-Mendez and his team developed intelligent portioning which helps kitchen cooks better understand how to apply the right amounts of ingredients with real-time guidance, preventing overserving as well as underserving, and improving the levels of quality and consistency within the kitchen. Using digital scales and portioning tools in combination with advanced software, Inverte’s suite of solutions integrate effortlessly into any foodservice operation, providing an easy plug-and-play type of setup. And, not only is the integration of Invert’s technology easy, Arcos-Mendez says that it also makes sense from an evolutionary perspective.
“The fact that we’re helping restaurant owners and others operating within the foodservice industry digitize their businesses is a real differentiator for us at the moment,” he asserts. “We’re pioneering intelligent digital portioning and the only company that’s able to help foodservice providers track every single portion of ingredients used from their inventories. It’s helping users optimize their operations in a number of different ways, most importantly from a quality consistency and cost savings perspective.”

Aggressive plans to scale
Arcos-Mendez is quick to credit the team around him for much of the success that Invert has already experienced, stating that it’s filled with innovative individuals who together combine their skills from a range of backgrounds, including software developers, hardware engineers, technicians, and marketers. He explains further that the company is currently entering into a project with the Canadian Food Innovation Network, which will allow it to expand its team further. And, pilots that were launched in early 2022 with the likes of East Side Mario’s and Little Caesars have been incredibly successful, and have allowed the company to go through several product iterations, refining its technology to near optimal performance. In fact, the pilots have been so successful, with feedback coming in so positively, that Arcos-Mendez has plans to scale the Inverte solution sooner rather than later.
“We’ve got aggressive plans ahead of us,” he says. “Within the next 12 to 15 months, we want to place the company and our solutions in the position to be able to scale up across North America. The problems of food waste and less than optimal performance are challenges that just about every player within the foodservice industry faces, despite where they operate, across the entire continent. And I really believe that with our technology and digital solution, Inverte has the opportunity to disrupt things in the best of ways and to make a significant impact by helping operators become more efficient and profitable.”

Disruptive future
The technology and solutions that Inverte is introducing to the market are incredible and are sure to help the foodservice industry strengthen operations. However, as Arcos-Mendez points out, he and his team at Inverte don’t have any plans on relenting the work that they’re doing just yet, and are working on further enhancing their solutions and benefits behind their uses.
“Looking ahead beyond the next 12 to 15 months or so, our long-term vision is to expand our intelligent portioning control technology and offer recipe guidance beyond restaurants, introducing our solutions to hotels and catering centres. And then, maybe a little more than a few years down the road, we’re working on introducing something truly disruptive, figuring out a way to allow diners to control their own portions, personalizing their orders right down to single ingredients. But, for now, we’re definitely focused on making our current technology and solutions that we offer as efficient and effective as possible in efforts to help foodservice providers grow and succeed, while eliminating the harm caused by food waste.”

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