Product discovery: food waste prevention in the Slovenian restaurant business
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Product discovery: food waste prevention in the Slovenian restaurant business

Learn how we plan to tackle the food waste crisis with product discovery and how you can apply these steps to your own ideas.

Ljubljana, Slovenia, Mar 2023

Food waste is a global problem. According to the World Wildlife Fund, around one-third of all food produced in the world is wasted, and the food industry is responsible for a significant proportion of that waste. If you want to make an impact and create meaningful solutions, you need to start with yourself. And that's precisely what we did. We started our product discovery by researching and about this problem in Slovenia asking:

How to waste less food?

First, some sad stats on why this problem needs our attention:

  • The estimated food waste in Slovenia is around 180,000 tons per year or approximately 88 kilograms per capita. (Slovenian Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, and Food, 2019)
  • The catering industry accounts for around 14% of this waste.
  • The average food waste per capita in the European Union (EU) is even higher - about 173 kilograms per year. (European Parliament, 2021)
  • The most commonly wasted foods in Slovenia are bread, vegetables, and fruit.
  • Pre-prepared food donation is not a common practice in Slovenia (strict HACCP standards), but some businesses are working towards reducing food waste through food recovery and redistribution.

And whilst all this, there is a lack of Saas products, that could help to tackle this problem in the restaurant business. Let’s level up this product discovery!

Undefining the core problem in the restaurant business: Where do the biggest losses happen?

To investigate food waste problems in Slovenian restaurants, we contacted and interviewed their owners, seeking a better understanding of their businesses. This is what we found out so far:

  • If they offer catering it sources the majority of food waste. There are different reasons for every event, like bad weather, low attendance, the date and timing of the event, and so on.
  • The food waste problem often peeks on weekends, when guests rather eat a-la-carte than from daily made brunch menus.
  • Offering cheaper meals at the end of the shift could lead to another problem - changing guest habits to wait for tor the discounted menu, rather than eating in before.
  • Restaurant kitchens operate on strict optimization to prevent further food-waste problems and prepare the exact number of ordered meals, to keep the business steady.

What we really discovered

At first, we had the idea to tackle this restaurant business problem by building something similar to 2Good2Go which is an innovative food-saving app that connects users with unsold food from restaurants and cafes at discounted prices.

But product discovery isn’t about listing ideas that might seem possible to implement. If fact, it is the opposite. The main goal of product discovery is to gather information and insights that can inform the development of a successful product.

After our interviews, a bigger picture showed up. (product discovery 101) The restaurant business is way more than just food preparation. We found out about another way to solve this problem at the root by making predictions about how many guests there will be at the event. Imagine a software-as-a-service (SaaS) solution helping catering businesses to predict how many guests are going to show up based on different inquiries. Sort of an anti-food waste fortune-telling.

This is just a reminder of how important product discovery really is. The insights gained from any product discovery (quick or thorough) can help ensure that the resulting product meets user needs and addresses a real market opportunity.

Tips2go for validating your own ideas:

  • Have a vague idea of what you want to build.
  • Don't start building it! Yet …
  • Find 10 customers that you think could help with your idea.
  • Contact them and present them with the idea.
  • Forget about your own idea and listen closely to the feedback. Ask as many questions as possible.
  • Go home, rethink your idea, and wait for chapter two of this article. :)

What’s next?

By researching the problem of restaurant food waste in Slovenia we aim to raise awareness of the issue and promote action to reduce waste, as well as help identify key drivers of waste and potential tech (hopefully AI) solutions.

Based on the insights provided, we are currently working on questions and ideas to present to restaurants next time. We will check whether this solution is viable for others as well during our next presentation. If you have to remember something from this experience, let this be it:

Questions first, building next!

For more about the specifics of the Slovenian restaurant business, the main issues concerning food waste prevention Saas product, and what else we (product) discovered read in part 2!.

Interested in food-waste prevention business too? Contact us and let’s talk about it. Join us on our mission to combine tech solutions with a sustainable future!



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