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How Technology Is Leading To Less Supermarket Food Waste

Updated: Oct 22, 2021

We each throw away around 74kg of food per year, according to the World Economic Forum (WEF). The UN Sustainable Development goals aim to reduce this by 50% by 2030. That’s a big target in quite a short timeframe. So how can the world stop wasting so much of its usable produce?

The world produces more than enough food for the entire population, yet over a third of this is wasted, while over two billion people suffer from hunger and malnutrition. The WEF reports that 76% of the food thrown out is perishable items, such as fresh fruit and vegetables, dairy products, eggs, and ready meals.

The causes of food waste are not just end-users being careless with food, however. Some of the losses occur across the supply chain, from harvesting, storage, transportation and processing. Much of the wasted food ends up in landfills, where the decomposing process contributes significantly to greenhouse gas emissions.

The waste of the earth’s resources in growing and harvesting food that is used for no good purpose is also a problem that needs to be addressed. Technology is being used to help reduce the amount of food wasted by retailers and consumers, with predictive analytics and dynamic shelf-life pricing.

Pricing strategies are already deployed by supermarkets to try and sell off food that is nearing its use-by date. However, they are not always used to their full potential, or in a consistent manner. The labelling system can cause confusion, because there is widespread misunderstanding about what the terms ‘use by’, ‘best-before, and ‘sell-by mean.

Although more consistent labelling and consumer awareness of the difference between ‘best before’ and ‘use by’ terms can help, there is also a more accurate approach using technology. Artificial Intelligence (AI) can help sellers do away with the rather crude ‘one size fits all approach' and use much more specific and targeted measures.

The technology, known as ‘dynamic shelf-life AI’ or ‘smart shelves, allows the price of items to be reduced in line with decreasing use-by or best before dates. The dates given by the manufacturers are often on the cautious side, to avoid liability for any harm to consumers health from eating gone-off food.

AI is able to take the guesswork out of labelling, by analysing a comprehensive amount of data from all stages of the supply chain. Even the same product can vary between batches and suppliers, Food and Drink Business explains, so these factors need to be taken into account when making decisions on labelling and pricing.

Ultimately, shelf-life AI can help manufacturers make decisions about optimal ingredients, storage of raw produce, and the method of transportation used if any of these variables are impacting the shelf-life of the product. It will also lead to far less perfectly usable food being discarded by both supermarkets and consumers.

Businesses that are innovative and progressive in their deployment of technology are already using AI in many ways to improve efficiency, and also contribute to a more sustainable future for the planet.

Singular Intelligence Shelf-life AI solution helps predict and improve shelf-life of Fresh food products and bundling it with CatmanAi helps significantly improve demand forecast, promotions and order management saving a large amount. If you need AI solutions for the Consumer goods sector, please get in touch today.

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