Food waste management is a matter of global concern. According to recent estimates, roughly one-third of the food produced in the world for human consumption every year — approximately 1.3 billion tons — gets lost or wasted. This contributes to the emission of greenhouse gases from landfills. Food waste occurs across the entire food system ranging from producers, retailers and restaurants, to consumers. Forward-thinking businesses are using advanced technology such as data analytics to tackle the issue.
Using big data and data analytics to collect real-time operational data throughout the food waste disposal process allows visibility into the organic waste stream. This further facilitates businesses to identify inefficiencies in food management processing and helps initiate process improvements to create immediate impacts. Measuring and optimizing food waste management not only supports environmental directives but also forms the key to finding operational efficiencies, enabling a business to make informed decisions about purchasing, production or other logistical needs.
How Can Data Analytics Help in Food Waste Management?
Retailers and other businesses dealing with food products are increasingly turning to data analytics solutions in order to manage the food wastes. The information collated and analyzed using data analytics reveals the waste generated by the business and seasonal change in demands, helping business to better plan their food waste management strategy.
Optimum Inventory Levels
Analyzing sales information, weather forecasts, and seasonal trends, help manufacturers to identify an optimum inventory level which they can then use to reduce the effects of food wastage. Predictions of consumer demand during a particular time can then be made and promotional plans and sales approaches can be structured around sell-by and expiry dates. This is primarily intended to cut down the food wastage and the knock-on environmental and cost issues that arise.
Predict Changes in Demand
Data analytics can be used to identify seasonal changes in consumer demand for food products. This helps retailers or restaurant chains to plan what quantity of a particular food item must be produced or procured, consequently leading to reduced wastes and better food waste management. Data analytics also helps retailers determine the products that are closer to expiry and aggressively reduce the prices on such items so that they are consumed before their expiry date and not wasted.
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An Example of Analytics in Food Waste Management
A notable success story for using analytics in food waste management is that of the British multinational groceries and general merchandise retailer – Tesco. The company uses a data-driven approach to reduce food waste and ensure effective food waste management. Tesco’s systems order approximately 110 million pounds of food products every day. So, the retailer turned to data analytics to improve the supply chain and minimize the instances of food wastage. Their systems utilize large amounts of data from its many store locations to develop, train, and test their algorithms. They utilize weather forecasts to increase their accuracy in predicting how the demand for food will change. Common sense tells you the seasonal change in people’s demand patterns. Data tells you exactly how much the change is and plan the inventory accordingly. This method helps minimize food waste by ensuring the right quantity of food products are available at each location. In addition to reducing waste and ensuring better food waste management, these initiatives have a positive economic impact for the retailer as well.