How Technology is Reducing Food Waste in the Supply Chain: Retail

The Importance of Reducing Food Waste 

Population growth is expected to hit its zenith around the year 2050 with 9.1 billion people estimated to inhabit the earth. Food production will need to increase by 70% to feed the masses, however producing more is not the only answer. With 1.3 billion tons of food ending up in landfills every year, reducing current levels of food waste is top on the agenda for industry leaders. It’s the responsibility of everyone involved in the food supply chain to examine their roles and support technology that promotes sustainability and reduce waste wherever possible. Let’s take a look at examples of how technology is making a difference in grocery stores around the world.

Inhouse Farming 

Grocery retailers all over the world have begun investing in growing their own produce locally, or on-site in indoor vertical farms. Growing produce in or around a retail store can eliminate transportation costs, the need for pesticides, and reduce the amount of water needed to grow a plant. While at the same time, supporting local markets, promoting product transparency, and above all improve quality and freshness of the food. Berlin based infarm is a team of 100 horticulturists, biologists, industrial engineers, and chefs who have worked together to create state of the art indoor farming solutions, with the goal of putting a farm in every grocery store. They believe that eliminating the distance between farm and fork, ensures produce retains all of its nutrients and intense natural flavor.

In 2016 infarm partnered with Metro supermarket in Berlin to implement the first in-store farming instillation in Europe. Metro executives recognized that in order to meet the growing customer concern for transparency and high quality products, they needed to rediscover the concept of “local”. Metro isn’t the only big retail house looking at indoor farming. In the US, Target is also testing indoor farming techniques for their stores.

While the concept of indoor farming isn’t new, the idea of indoor farming in grocery stores is still a widely unexplored concept. Success for big retail houses like Target and Metro, could pave the way for success for other grocers.

Increasing Awarness 

The power of the internet is another unlikely weapon in the battle to reduce food waste. A well-executed social media awareness campaign gone viral can make all the difference. The Inglorious Fruits and Vegetable campaign is an example of how French grocer Intermarche, turned ugly and otherwise unworthy produce into cash. The grocery chain took misshaped produce that would have normally been discarded, and sold them at discounted prices or refashioned them into branded soups and juices. By making off-grade produce “cool again”, Intermarche experienced immediate success and sold 1.2 tons of produce per store, in the first two days. Inglorious Fruits and vegetables video:


Smart Sensors and Ethanol Reducers

Investing in indoor farming isn’t the only solution to reducing waste at the grocer. FreshSurety has developed a low cost sensor that monitors freshness conditions from anywhere in the supply chain and produce real-time information that offers complete transparency about the quality of produce from the farm to the shelves. It’s Fresh! offers a wide variety of fresh filters that absorb the ethanol gasses around the produce, keeping it fresher for longer.


IoT and Inventory Tracking

Adopting first-rate inventory management and tracking systems are an outstanding first step for a grocer looking to reduce waste. The rise of IoT has provided retailers with the opportunity to shift the way inventory is managed. New technologies surrounding inventory management can improve inventory control and logistics, resulting in a more efficient operation that reduces the chance for food to go bad. For more information about possibilities for your business, contact us.

There are a number of ways grocers can cut back on the amount of food waste. If you are interested in reading more about how technology is eliminating food waste, check out our previous blogpost:

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