Hospitality and Food Industry Firm, Foodprint Group, Reengineers Entire Workflow With Mendix Low-Code to Fight Waste and Climate Change

  • Social-impact firm deploys suite of Mendix-built mobile and desktop apps to track carbon offset and waste diversion in the foodservice and hospitality industries
  • Workflow application suite built with low-code enables socially responsible business to scale services for international client base

BOSTON – January 26, 2022 Mendix, a Siemens business and global leader in enterprise application development, today announced that Foodprint Group, a woman-owned firm enabling corporations in the foodservice and hospitality industries to reduce waste and carbon emissions, has re-engineered and digitalized its entire workflow using the Mendix low-code platform. The company is rolling out a new, unified application suite that includes a digitally reimagined version of its signature offerings, Foodprint Trax and Foodprint Scorecard, as well as a tailored client dashboard for real-time reporting and data visualizations, and a virtual onboarding tool for new clients working remotely.

Working with Indium Software, a Mendix partner with offices in California and New Jersey, Foodprint has successfully deployed its Mendix-built application suite to clients in 21 countries including in the U.S., Canada, U.K., Mexico, China, Vietnam, Philippines, the United Arab Emirates and Malaysia — with additional customer deployments expected this year. “We’ve been able to meet strict security requirements for digital operations in countries such as China and Vietnam because Mendix incorporates best practices for governance and compliance, an indispensable aspect of the platform,” said Christina Grace, Foodprint Group’s cofounder and CEO. “This enables a small company like ours to have a global impact with international clients.”

Finding the formula for triple bottom-line returns

The problem that Foodprint addresses has global repercussions. The world wastes about 1.4 billion tons of food every year, and the United States discards more food than any other country in the world: nearly 40 million tons — 80 billion pounds — every year. More than 80% of this wasted food ends up in landfills or is incinerated. Foodprint’s suite of digital solutions helps hospitality and foodservice corporations to reduce that waste, improve recycling, meet regulatory requirements, and make smarter, data-driven purchasing and inventory decisions.

“We enable our clients to achieve triple bottom-line returns — cost reductions, green-house gas savings, and public health benefits,” Grace said.

The digital integration of Foodprint Group’s solutions enabled the program to scale for multi-site global customers. “Before using Mendix, we ran the risk of becoming an extension of our client’s staff because we were doing all the legwork to gather their data,” said Krietta Marley, vice president, product development, at Foodprint.

Adds Grace: “The new applications transform us into the company we want to be, which is a zero waste technology, e-learning, and performance management firm. Mendix enabled us to replace labor-intensive ‘feet on the street’ with tech-enabled functionality.”

A core Mendix principle: democratizing software development

“We are proud to support anyone who wants to take a good idea and turn it into software with our platform and learning resources,” said Sheryl Koenigsberg, Mendix’s global vice president of product marketing. “The environmental and sustainability challenges we face in the coming decade are formidable. At the same time, we are heartened to see low-code empowering a vast swath of people from all backgrounds as they make big changes happen with digital solutions.”

Christina Grace added, “To be successful as a bootstrap start-up, we need to be technologically enabled to scale our company and impact. Having access to Mendix’s robust low-code development platform has been really positive, enabling us to leverage the efficiency and effectiveness of automation and validate that our Zero Waste Program is helping our clients achieve their goals. We know we are not going to outgrow Mendix. It’s a powerful tool that can do just about anything, but it also has the flexibility to let us concentrate on immediate needs, adding functionality and updates later. For a company with limited resources, that can make all the difference.”

Using low-code to build once and scale often

Before adopting Mendix, Foodprint’s staff conducted their work using siloed tools, including Google docs, email, and a customer-facing interface built with WordPress and running on Android and iOS devices. “We had no integrated backend to crunch the data,” recalls Christina Grace. “Someone had to manually calculate the waste diversion rate and run it through the EPA’s WARM model to get the carbon offset number. It was very inefficient.”

As more companies such as San Diego-based Measurabl and Singapore-headquartered Greenview, provide targeted metrics for the hospitality industry to track environmental sustainability, Grace foresees that Indium’s low-code developers will be able to integrate Foodprint Trax data with these external measurement tools. “Indium demonstrated phenomenal expertise solving key challenges to deploying our apps on handheld mobile devices,” said Grace. “What we had found difficult became easy in their hands.”

The urgent need to fight food waste, a leading cause of greenhouse gasses

In 2019, 35% of the 229 million tons of food produced in the U.S. ended up in landfills, incinerators, or was left to rot. The consequences of this waste — which includes the water, soil, and energy used to grow, harvest, transport, and prepare unused and eaten food — are enormous. The Washington Post reported that food waste had a larger carbon footprint and created more greenhouse gasses than the airline industry. In the U.S., uneaten food accounts for 14% of all freshwater usage, 18% of croplands, and 24% of landfill inputs. Yet, more than one in six people in the U.S. struggle with food insecurity and hunger.

As a result, the federal government, the United Nations, and numerous global business coalitions have produced tools to measure the impact of food loss with the goal of cutting waste in half throughout the food value chain within the decade. While nonprofit groups have used those guidelines to transform downstream practices of farms, manufacturers, retailers, and consumers, the Foodprint Group, headquartered in New York and chartered as a social impact corporation, offers tailored programs for corporate businesses in the foodservice industry seeking to reduce their carbon footprint.

Leveraging information to motivate teams and reduce waste

Foodprint Group’s client base includes international hotels, catering firms, and hospitality enterprises that prepare and distribute food from multiple locations. “No one involved in food prep and meal service has time to weigh the garbage,” said Grace.

Collecting data had to be frictionless and progress easily monitored. Foodprint Group also needed clients to track diverse waste streams, which can include organic waste, composting, cardboard, plastics, recyclables, and specialty items such as recycled grease.

The suite of digital solutions include:

Foodprint Trax. Employees press a button on app-enabled iPads and tablets installed in waste rooms and loading docks, documenting the number of bags being tossed, bins being filled, and bales of cardboard, all according to waste type. “The Trax app enables the janitorial staff to estimate what percentage of a  bin is full, say, three-quarters or half,” said Grace. The app automatically converts volume or numbers of units (“totes”) into weight based on the specific weights of the containers or units a client chooses to track

Foodprint Scorecard. This web-based feature, working in conjunction with Trax, sets benchmarks for waste management goals. Clients enter data on a monthly basis to confirm that physical components of their Zero Waste Program (such as signage, bin placement, and new employee training) remain operational. With that in place, the app can track monthly progress and send push notifications to the client dashboard that pinpoint areas to improve recycling and waste diversion efforts.

Client Dashboard. The cloud-native Mendix backend database stores key metrics for analysis, providing data insights on waste reduction progress that can be customized by corporate roles. It also enables web-based custom reporting features, such as company-specific carbon reporting and visualizations depicting the environmental impact of the client’s monthly waste diversion. For example, after running client data through online carbon calculators, such as the EPA’s Waste Reduction Model (WARM), the dashboard translates complex energy saving measurements into the equivalent number of trees saved or cars removed to achieve the same carbon offset.

Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) managers can also use the client dashboard to track the environmental benefits of food donations and total food donations by weight for CSR reporting and to share the impacts with employees and customers. Finance/operations can leverage new, detailed metrics to renegotiate fees and services with waste haulers, while a chef may want to rethink purchasing based on the amount of leftover food each day. In the future, Foodprint will explore ways to leverage low-code built connections with client-based inventory management systems to reduce surplus food ordering and streamline efficiencies.

“Mendix enables us to aggregate all the customer information related to wasted materials into one place,” Grace said. “Before, it was complicated to keep track of certain things. The interactive application and database changes the dynamic, where they have training tools and information at their fingertips. It enables us to deliver more for our clients and in a timely, cost-effective way.”

Virtual Onboarding. Foodprint has used the onboarding tool to remotely access customer sites in order to  customize program tools and prepare program specifics for 23 new hotel and hospitality clients this year. Clients upload floor plans, PDF invoices from waste haulers, employee information, waste hauling schedules, existing signage and graphic design files, plus other information needed to implement a waste reduction program.

“It used to take weeks to get this information from clients,” said Marley. “The day we launched this tool, we felt such relief that we didn’t have to send and receive key program information via email from multiple people at a client’s forty  locations around the world. We spent so much time saving those files from email or searching through Google drive folders. That activity is draining and it’s just vanished now.”

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