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It has been over a year since The Grocer launched its ambitious campaign to tackle the 1.9 million tonnes of food being wasted by UK food and drink firms – you can read more about the launch of the initiative on one of our earlier blogs.
The campaign has emphasised the importance of educating consumers, reworking distortive government policies and keeping up pressure on industry in order to tackle the colossal quantities of food being binned each year, but WRAP (The Waste and Resources Action Programme) has also emphasised the vital role technology has to play.
“WRAP's research suggests much of the £17bn of food waste that arises every year in the UK could be prevented through changes in business and consumer behaviours, but technological solutions will be essential to supporting such behaviour change, and in some cases negating the need for it,” says Andrew Parry, the charity’s special advisor for food and drink.
WRAP claims 58% of the 1.9 million tonnes of food wasted in the supply chain is avoidable, and the opportunity for technology to intervene is huge.
New and exciting innovations are being launched across the UK in an attempt to educate consumers and the industry, and prevent avoidable waste. Things like the Food Cloud, an app which allows businesses to upload details of their surplus food for charities; food robotic chefs to ensure precision and accuracy at food manufacturing sites; and tools to accurately identify weather-related risks to food supply/demand are all quickly coming to the market.
These tools work in isolation, but the importance of seamlessly connecting your supply chain together and allowing all members to access the same data in real-time can have a massive impact on waste; reducing it by up to 50%. Our Greenlight Quality Control software has become the industry standard for this, and is a core business tool for some of the world’s largest retailers and their supply chain members.
Rather than food arriving at the supermarket depot and either being accepted and sold, or rejected and discarded, each member of the supply chain has access to the information that tells them what is acceptable. Everyone is clear on the required specification from the get-go; the supplier, and even his suppliers, have confidence that the produce is the appropriate quality for the customer before it's shipped, and the retailer has confidence that all produce about to arrive at depot is fit for purpose.
The supplier is able to identify any produce that the retailer will reject before he ships it, therefore allowing him to redistribute to another customer. The end result is a significant reduction in waste, increase in efficiency, and stronger supply chain relationships.