Dion Broeken, Displaydata's Director of Sales EMEA Last week the USDA and EPA made a
significant announcement, telling the world that it is stepping up when it comes to food wastage by calling a 50% reduction in food waste by 2030. To achieve this lofty yet attainable goal, the United States federal government says they will work with charitable organizations, faith-based organizations, the private sector and local, state and tribal governments. On a personal note, I say “Bravo!” to the USDA and EPA for taking a stand to reduce, by no small amount, the estimated 133 billion pounds of food that is wasted each year. According to U.S. Agriculture Secretary, Tom Vilsack, that is enough food to fill the Willis Tower (formerly known as the Sears Tower) 44 times.
On a global level, food wastage continues to be a huge concern, especially for our colleagues in the grocery retail world. On a daily, weekly, monthly and yearly basis, grocery retailers worldwide have struggled with how best to control the amount of food waste and are consistently plagued with huge write-offs on fruits, vegetables and other fresh produce. In recent years, grocery retailers have taken initial steps to shore up their food wastage. Many of them, especially in Europe, have pledged to not throw any food away and have invested in technology to help with those efforts.
While some solutions can play an important role to improve inventory availability, lower logistics and stock costs, I believe that electronic shelf labels (ESLs) have proved to be most beneficial in helping to reduce waste – especially in the produce and bakery sections of the store. Take for example, the produce department, which can see hundreds of price changes per day. By implementing an ESL solution, grocery retailers can easily change its prices on a store-by-store basis and based on availability. This eliminates the need for store associates to change burdensome and costly paper labels throughout the day, instead allowing them to focus on helping shoppers find the merchandise they need, move produce and reduce food wastage. ESL technology, complemented with a dynamic pricing solution, gives grocery retailers an innovative way to quickly communicate price changes to their shoppers, encouraging them to purchase items before they spoil. This ultimately helps grocery retailers improve sales and margins.
Boosting the bottom line is the ultimate goal, but I think this latest announcement from the Feds will, and should, spur more grocery retailers to also think more critically about the ways in which they can they can improve from a corporate social responsibility standpoint.