Aurélie Stewart, CSR director at Elior: “The concept of support is fundamental, the tools are not enough”

Elior Group has taken a big step in terms of artificial intelligence, how does this help you fight against food waste?

Artificial intelligence is one of the key tools in the fight against food waste. The notion of forecasting, even more so since the post-Covid period when attendance is experiencing Russian montages, is essential. In the daily management tool (ERP) used by the managers of our restaurants, we have developed in-house and connected modules which allow us to exploit existing data such as the rate of take, the habits of frequentation, the number of covers, outdoor events… This approach makes it possible to make the data we have intelligent and to interpret the data as closely as possible to needs with a direct impact on the income statement for the restaurant manager. It’s quite stimulating. Today, this tool, which is specific to us, has been deployed in 350 company restaurants in France. It will be implemented in schools with on-site catering in the coming months.

To act effectively, you need to be able to measure waste, how do you do it?

Here too, we have a tool integrated into the daily management interfaces on more than 300 sites (all segments combined) to measure waste. During a first diagnosis, it gives the possibility of calculating the waste according to the different fields that are the production, the service and the return trays. This degree of precision per site allows us to be more specific and to target actions (raising awareness with posters, request for smaller portions, positioning of bread, work on recipes, etc.) with the customer according to each result. Then, a second diagnosis makes it possible to estimate the impact of the actions. You really have to measure the actions on each site with each client and each audience. When it comes to food waste, we no longer have time to wait!

Since 2019, Elior Group has signed a partnership with Too Good To Go to make the most of surpluses. What are the latest developments?

Our partnership is growing. Since the beginning, we have saved 32,000 baskets in France on 295 sites. Historically, this worked more with the business segment, but for the past year the education segment has also been involved, in particular with the awareness program in the school environment “Mon Ecole Anti-Gaspi”. We are also developing a content and communication partnership through webinars and the pooling of testimonials from our managers. And we have created in-house training modules. We are really in a process of co-construction.

We’ve talked a lot about technology, but what about the men and women in the fight against food waste?

The notion of support is fundamental. There are tools, but tools alone are not enough. It is necessary to evangelize, to reassure, and to equip at the right level of the existing environment. We have to get people to understand the issue of waste without necessarily talking about CSR but by connecting it to very concrete actions on the ground. A chef’s creativity has as much value on a courgette flower as on a vegetable peel or a Label Rouge chicken leg! All this must be accompanied and cannot be decreed.

Interview on September 27, 2022

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Aurélie Stewart, CSR director at Elior: “The concept of support is fundamental, the tools are not enough”

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