Food waste is a serious issue across the entire supply chain. Around one-third of all food is lost or wasted - this equates to approximately 1.3 billion tonnes.
In order to control this, emerging technologies are being used to streamline processes and help reduce wastage. Food is wasted throughout the supply chain from agricultural production all the way through to the consumption stage.
In this blog, you will meet the 10 tech companies that have developed innovative ways to tackle food waste, from farm to fork.
These include the use of technology to help restaurants better predict client’s demand, connecting businesses’ surplus food with consumers, and enabling supermarkets to sell items which are near their sell-by date.
Food that never gets eaten represents a large variety of combined resources, such as land, water, energy, soil, seeds and other agricultural inputs.
Food might be wasted in initial production for a number of reasons, which include weather damage, overproduction, reduced orders and aesthetic requirements.
WRAP’s research estimates that £650m worth of food is being wasted every year in the UK before it even leaves the farm.
San Francisco-based Full Harvest is rescuing ugly produce and building a B2B marketplace that connects farms with F&B companies, such as juice franchises, that seek to purchase more affordable ingredients for their products.
Buyers of the “wonky” goods can save up to 40% compared to traditional distributors. And, on top of that, nothing gets left in the fields.
Plantix is tackling food waste by using AI to help farmers increase their productivity. Their mobile app uses image recognition to detect plant diseases, pests, and soil deficiencies affecting plant health.
The app also connects the community of scientists, farmers and plant experts to each other, enabling discussion and learning.
Apeel discovered a way to use plants to keep produce fresh for longer. Instead of using regular wax to improve the shelf-life of fruits, their edible coat is made from wasted agricultural products like leftover grape skins from wine production.
Apeel adds a layer of its plant-derived wax to the surface of the product to slow spoilage. By doing that, they can extend the shelf life of fruits and vegetables up to five times more.
Foodservice and hospitality
It is estimated that food waste costs the global hospitality sector around $100 billion every year. Food is wasted in kitchens because chefs lack the necessary tools to quickly and accurately record the food being thrown away.
Without visibility into what is being wasted, chefs make forecasting errors overproducing by 5%-15% (in some rare cases up to 20%) of all the food they purchase.
We develop artificial intelligence used by a growing number of organisations to reduce food waste in their operations. Our digital tools, Waste Monitor and Winnow Vision, provide data to drive improvements in kitchen production processes.
This input help chefs cut food waste in half, saving money and reducing environmental footprint at the same time.
Kitchens that use Winnow tend to see a 40-70% reduction in food waste within 6-12 months, driving food cost savings in the range of 2%-8%, improving margins whilst doing the right thing.
Understanding your daily habits in the kitchens is critical to improving your production planning and avoid waste. Tenzo is a management platform that gives hospitality and retail businesses actionable insights from their real-time data.
Tenzo’s tools were designed to put data behind questions like how much food to order in, who member of staff to schedule at what time.
Too Good To Go is the world’s largest marketplace for surplus food, allowing businesses to reach hungry customers who also eager to avoid waste.
The app-based platform works by having a set amount of portions available daily for customers to pre-purchase and collect at the end of service.
These numbers are easily adjustable to work with restaurants’ supply and demand, also allowing the refund of any order that is not fulfilled.
Supermarkets hold a lot of power in the food supply chain – the big retailers have over 85% of the market share of grocery stores in the UK.
In June 2019, the UK's major supermarkets signed a pledge to help halve the country's £20bn annual food waste bill by 2030. Ahead of this even reaching the shelves, it is also estimated that more than £1bn of food destined for UK supermarkets is thrown away or fed to animals before it leaves farms every year.
Total Ctrl provides retailers with automated expiration data that enables full control over product inventory, all in one place. With Total Ctrl, grocers can make their routines more digital and increase profitability and efficiency, whilst decreasing food waste. In addition, they can create loyal customers by making it easy for them to become more sustainable.
Mimica helps reduce food wastage by advising supermarkets when food is still fresh, so they can save more and waste less. Mimica Touch is a temperature-sensitive indicator cap or label for food freshness.
It helps supermarkets store food at the right temperature, and reduces food waste by showing them when the food actually spoils, rather than relying only on the estimated expiry date.
Wasteless is helping food retailers cut food waste through AI-powered dynamic pricing. To optimize revenues and reduce waste, Wasteless’s pricing engine uses electronic labels connected to the store’s point of sale.
This allows the computer engine to quickly learn how consumers respond to dynamic pricing so it can then find the optimal discounting policy.
What happens next?
With food waste, comes package waste, and that’s where the technology that Greyparrot comes in handy. Every year, about 8 million tons of plastic waste ends up in our oceans. Greyparrot provides computer vision solutions to power next-generation robotics and smart systems for waste management.
Their recognition software identifies different waste types to enable waste monitoring and automation in recycling plants.
Mikela Druckman, Founder & CEO of Greyparrot, explains: “AI is changing many industries and has the potential to significantly impact waste management as well. The combination of fast advancements in computer vision and decreasing cost of robotics will drive further automation and transparency in the industry.”