Speaker Interview: Marc Zornes
Get to know the thought leaders sharing their insights at the Future Food Systems event (25-26 January, Online | 2 March, London) in our dedicated speaker interview series.
Independent Forums: What is your favorite food?
Marc Zornes: My all time favorite food is Mexican mole, it’s when you get to eat chocolate for dinner.
Independent Forums: Who or what has inspired you this year and why?
Marc Zornes: All the young climate change activists protesting during COP26 inspire me. From Jakarta to London, children and teens from all over the world are marching in the streets to demand action on climate change. It’s amazing to see people being so passionate and it inspires me to see their energy and commitment to the cause. Because of their actions the world is taking notice. These young people are social-media savvy and they are using their voices to raise awareness.
Independent Forums: What is your biggest source of motivation?
Marc Zornes: My biggest motivation is my love for food, which began at the age of 6 when my grandparents brought me into their kitchen and taught me the family recipes for the first time. They inspired me to see the creativity around cooking and also instilled in me a respect for the food that made it to our table. This is what has motivated me over the 20 years that I worked in the food industry, and when I founded my company Winnow. Winnow develops AI tools to help chefs cut food waste in kitchens. To waste food is to waste all the resources and hard work of many people that went into producing this food. Moreover, it has alarming effects on our environment; it is a leading cause for global warming because when food decomposes in a landfill it produces greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide and methane. Reducing food waste is very important to me, and that’s my biggest motivator.
Independent Forums: How would you describe a typical day?
Marc Zornes: I wake up at 6am and do some light reading before I go to work. In the evenings I come back home and spend time with my family. I also do a bit of gardening. I grow fruits and vegetables in my backyard. It is important to me that my daughter grows up feeling connected to food. I want her to understand the seasonality of food and all the energy that goes into making it. When you lose your connection to what it takes to make food, it becomes easier to waste it.
Independent Forums: What’s one thing about you that most people don’t know? Marc Zornes: I'm a passionate amateur cook. I love cycling to and from work. It takes an hour each way but it's a great way to gear up and unwind.
Independent Forums: What’s one thing about your organization that you wish more people knew?
Marc Zornes: Apart from environmental benefits, Winnow helps the F&B sector to simultaneously increase profitability and productivity. Most people assume that reducing food waste only provides sustainability benefits. Our AI enabled tool Winnow Vision, helps drive efficiency while honoring culinary brand standards across an enterprise at a global scale. As a result, our clients see food purchasing costs being cut by 3%-8%.
Independent Forums: Where do you see the biggest opportunity for transformation within the food system?
Marc Zornes: We’re running out of the space for our planet to store carbon without it overheating. We’re running out of water in the right places. We’re running out of easy access to other natural resources, and it's going to get harder. At Winnow, we focus on food waste. About a third of all food that’s grown is wasted. If you
look at the carbon emissions related to food waste, it’s about 10 percent of global greenhouse-gas emissions.
The biggest opportunity for transformation is in people’s mindsets and how we view sustainability. We’ve seen a change of awareness in the hospitality industry over the past decade. We’ve moved from a conversation about organic and provenance as the main ways to address sustainability to a more advanced narrative about what type of food you’re serving. This is driven by the fact that customers are demanding it because they are seeing the issue of climate change as a very real one. I think this trend is going to continue, and as it gets more normalized and it scales, it’s going to go from something you should do to something you must do.
Independent Forums: What are you most looking forward to at Future Food Systems 2022?
Marc Zornes: I look forward to meeting other businesses and innovators to potentially discuss and collaborate on ways to make our food system more efficient.
Marc will be speaking in the 'Sustainable Production & Consumption – Advancing the Shift to a Circular Food System' session on 26 January 2022.
Register here to join the conversation.