Working to Make a Difference with Food Wastage

Emma Stevens

Andrew Dark, CEO, Displaydatashutterstock_271329875.jpg

At Displaydata, we are encouraged by the new standard leading
grocery retailers worldwide continue to set for the rest of the industry. And, as we blogged about last October, tecnology’s role in the effort to reduce food wastage globally is continually growing. In retail, dynamic pricing is being implemented by grocers to strategically price perishable items throughout the day, to encourage shoppers to purchase those items. In our experience, we’ve found retailers that decrease pricing by 1% throughout the day, see an increase in sales of 2.62% on average. To further reduce their environmental impact, retailers are using digital signage like ESLs to display the pricing changes instead of traditional paper tags, allowing for a more flexible pricing strategy without excess waste. 

Technology can play a continuing key role, but we all must do our part to reduce the amount of wasted food. A new study recently published in the journal Environmental Science & Technology set out to quantify just how much food we throw away translates into a warming climate. Researchers found food consumption per person has more or less stayed the same over the past five decades, but food availability has climbed higher and higher, while still not reaching people who are chronically hungry. And all of that extra agriculture production and waste is helping drive climate change. In 2010, the food industry as a whole produced more than 20 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions.Reducing the amount of food wasted is a global concern. In the U.S., the USDA and EPA are making big strides in eliminating food wastage, calling for a 50% reduction in food waste by 2030. The United States federal government says it will work with charitable and faith-based organisations, the private sector and local, state and tribal governments to reduce the 133 billion pounds of food wasted each year. One of the U.K.’s largest grocers recently announced it will begin donating leftover food from its stores to charity with the hope to eradicate all food waste from the organisation by the end of 2017.

According to contributing researcher and co-author Prajal Pradhan, the link between global food waste and greenhouse gas emissions can hardly be misconstrued. “Avoiding food loss and waste would therefore avoid unnecessary greenhouse gas emissions and help mitigate climate change. Changing individual behavior to avoid food waste could be one key towards mitigating the climate crisis.”

That’s why we are encouraged by others outside our industry who are working for the greater good. Here are a few examples:

  • Zero-waste grocery stores: The goal of stores like the Fillery in New York and Zero Waste Market in Vancouver allow customer to bring in their own reusable containers to measure out and purchase just the right amount of food items and other household products. The goal is to encourage shoppers to buy only what they need, an approach that helps cut down on the amount of both unused food and unnecessary packaging. Read more about these initiatives in this Huffington Post article.
  • Olio app: This mobile app connects neighbors and local businesses wanting to exchange or sell surplus edible food, to foster a "food sharing revolution". Users can open the app, add a photo, description, price and details of when and where the food is available for pick-up.
  • Winnow software: A cloud-based software platform that enables commercial kitchens to record food wastage as they go and analyze their production processes.

The Displaydata team will continue to keep an eye on new food wastage elimination initiatives and provide updates on other grocery retailers who join the cause to eliminate global food waste.

About Displaydata

Our Electronic Shelf Labels (ESLs) bring the shelf-edge into the Internet of Things era, helping to create shopping experiences that are more engaging, rewarding and personalised – and profitable. We help retailers optimise sales and margin at the shelf-edge, where 90% of purchases are still made.

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