domingo, octubre 2, 2022
InicioOpinionFood Waste: Be Part of the Solution, Not the Problem

Food Waste: Be Part of the Solution, Not the Problem

Food waste is everyone’s problem. So it’s time to reflect, rethink and rethink why this has taken on gigantic proportions, and discuss possible ways to solve this problem. While the solutions offered have usually been in the economic and political arena, let’s take a look at what organizations can do to stop food waste; in particular, how we can use technology to prevent, recover, and manage it.

Engage consumers and employees in food waste management: On the part of consumers, organizations should support awareness-raising initiatives. If the programs are already in place, redouble your efforts to draw attention to the problem, and if not, launch them. For example, the Unilever Use-Up Day campaign aims to reduce food waste by one-third by encouraging consumers to use the ingredients they already have at least once a week.

It is also important to provide clear labeling. A recent study shows that only 35% of consumers say they fully understand the difference between “best before”, “best before” and “best before” terms that you see on date labels.

Companies should also use information technology to promote zero waste among consumers. For example, the “Internet of Grocery” can connect organizations and consumers from the moment a product is picked up in a supermarket, through its storage and preparation, all the way to its disposal or, ideally, its absence. We must use data to educate and raise awareness about people, and support consumer efforts to cook food sustainably with what’s in the fridge.

For employees, a focus on encouraging active behavior is critical to getting their attention on reducing food waste.

Collaborate across the entire industry value chain: food waste prevention solutions are based on collaboration and innovation. Organizations today are not focusing enough on influencing the entire food chain to reduce waste. For example, demand-driven production does not spread throughout the food chain. Purchasing agents and supply chains have very different performance goals. The retailer’s goals should include as little waste as possible throughout the supply chain. In a high-demand industry such as the food industry, the focus should be on introducing and scaling up technology solutions that maximize impact, such as demand forecasting, temperature monitoring, inventory management, geographic information system (GIS) mapping, and remote sensing. Similarly, building visible, agile and intelligent supply chains brings transparency and enhances collaboration and data sharing with value chain partners. For example, using Internet of Things (IoT) solutions in cold chains can help organizations leverage analytics, improve traceability, and control the quality of perishable foods. Expanding local supply chains also results in reduced spoilage and waste, faster turnaround times, a lower carbon footprint, and lower transportation costs. After the coronavirus, regionalization and localization of the supplier base has become a priority for many large organizations. Walmart, for example, is using blockchain technology to speed up tracking (from 7 days to 2 seconds), improve food safety, and reduce waste.

Track and report on food waste benchmarks: What gets measured gets controlled. Organizations must set goals to reduce food waste, set appropriate metrics, and track and report progress towards them. With the right technology solutions, companies can evaluate and track waste. It will also help to report waste volumes and assign dollar value to them.

Companies need to better coordinate organizational resources as they can link food waste prevention to cost reductions, revenue growth, or brand enhancement. For example, Sodexo has implemented a data-driven food waste prevention program that has already cut the organization’s food waste by about half.

Prevention the Way Forward: Industry research shows that, on average, food waste costs represent about 5.6% of total sales for organizations. In addition to the financial implications, food waste is a significant source of greenhouse gases, accounting for 8-10% of global emissions.

The resources involved in producing, processing, transporting and disposing of food also generate huge amounts of waste and costs. Combined with rampant food price inflation and persistently high energy prices, food loss and waste is one of the most pressing and serious problems in society.

Organizations at every stage of the food value chain need to manage waste better. Recent technological breakthroughs in IoT, artificial intelligence, machine learning, smart supply chains, etc. can play a fundamental role. Similarly, technology can also help track and evaluate food waste and take action at the right time, engaging consumers in the task of reducing waste.

Everyone is part of the food waste problem, and everyone can be part of the solution. In the end, preventing food waste is just the right thing to do.

Sandeep Bhatia is Head of Capgemini Invent India.

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