Food waste is a global problem, affecting climate change and the world economy. The disposal of such a large amount of food leads to enormous levels of CO2 emissions. Specifically, 10% of overall CO2 emissions — 4 times more than all air traffic emissions. Moreover, the production of uneaten food puts extra strain on the environment by wasting natural resources like water and farmland. Processing of food waste racks up losses of $1 trillion for the world economy every year. To imagine the scale of the problem, you can visit this online counter of lost and wasted food.
Where food waste happens
Food losses appear at all stages of the food supply chain, from production, handling, storage and processing to packaging, distribution, retail and consumption. Food losses at the final stage of the food chain (retail and final consumption) are called “food waste.” Due to a lack of user preferences analysis and demand forecasting in early stages, we see 35% of overall food losses at the final stages of the food chain.
This enormous share happens due to inefficiency of the supply chain, insufficient collaboration across the value chain and outdated regulations that are not focused on the food waste problem. While changing regulations is the issue of public policy, the inefficiency of the supply chain could be improved with technological solutions by businesses themselves.
What we can do with technologies
It is essential to create proper conditions for minimizing spoilage during shipment. A seller should ensure that their product is appropriately delivered, whether that transfer takes an hour or a week. To control products from the beginning to the end of the chain, sellers should mark every product with a unique code with detailed product information. This code can then be scanned and monitored at every stage of the food chain. Moreover, information on delivery conditions should be added to the code at every point in which they could change. Thus, the seller is made aware of delivery conditions and can analyze the stage at which spoilage occurs and find solutions for minimizing it.
Insufficient purchase planning and rapidly encroaching ‘best-before-dates’ cause large amounts of waste at the consumer level. Improving planning accuracy is possible by integrating machine learning into the software. It can help to monitor all purchases and record user preferences. Analyzing this data helps suppliers to understand which items are most popular, and which ones go unused. As a result, the procurement department can purchase the products that enjoy the right balance of popularity and shelf life. This system works for both small businesses and supermarkets.
Improve consumers’ awareness
After integrating machine learning and collecting user data, you have an excellent opportunity to start new channels of communication with buyers. As your system monitors user preferences, it can easily inform them when their favorite product is running low or is about to expire, and can therefore be purchased at a reduced price.
We can affirm that all of the aforementioned methods have been successful, as our FooDoo team has already integrated them into their business process. We have reduced the average food waste in the Grab & Go market by up to 50%, and are poised to increase that figure even further.