How Big Data Analytics can Help Reduce Food Wastage
Updated: Feb 7
What is the most common ritual of maintaining a kitchen? Cleaning out your fridge every few weeks to ensure you always have the best produce and food products to consume.
Ever given a thought to the amount of food you need to discard to maintain a standard of food quality you consume? Now imagine a huge storage fridge at a supermarket. That’s tons of food being wasted.
Let’s take a look at some staggering figures-
Around 1/3 of the entire food produced on the planet is wasted. That is approximately 1.3 billion tons.
95% of the discarded food either ends up in landfills or combustion sites.
However, in this scenario, big data analytics comes to the rescue. Organizations are now looking
for the right data to help them alleviate the problem of excessive food wastage at the supply level. According to Quantzig, a big data analytics firm, “Big data analytics helps in addressing business problems, benchmarking performance metrics and thereby implementing best practices across the organization, improving efficiency and driving profitability.”
Food Wastage and Big Data Analytics: Going the Tesco way
Appalled by all the food that gets wasted, Tesco decided to take a rather unconventional route and applied a data-driven approach to reduce food wastage.
Around 110 million pounds is ordered from Tesco systems every day. The retailers used various data analytics algorithms to figure out the amount of food that will be required and improved their supply chain.
Tesco also took weather into account and figured how much food will be required for each season. Common knowledge tells you that people would indulge in salads on warm weekends, but a data analysis will tell you exactly how many people that is.
A method was also devised to reduce prices of food products as they approached their expiry date. The idea is to reduce food wastage by any means possible.
How to DIY - Playing your part in reducing food wastage
Big Data Analytics can play a major in identifying the steps in the food distribution and consumption cycle where wastage might take place. Listed below are some of the changes which can placate the amount of food wastage overall:
1. Upgrading inventory system with new tech.
Employing the latest technology can help reduce excess inventory and cut down the number of perishables that are ultimately discarded due to inefficient handling system. A number of minimal viable products (MVP) are currently being worked on and tested. If proven successful, they will open doors to a large number of opportunities in the inventory system development.
2. Tying up with framers in the supply chain.
Wastage of food starts at the land which it is grown on. Approximately 7% of the entire produce is wasted at the farm itself. This tendency to grow extra is often considered a precaution against harsh weather and diseases. But if the retailers directly collaborate with the intermediaries and the farmers, a lot of wastage can be reduced.
This collaboration with the farmers means that they are being treated as partners and not mere contractors. The chances of investing in long-term sustainability are higher in this model, rather than retailers focusing on maximizing the food chain supply for immediate use.
3. Modify or eliminate traditional storage practices.
Over the years, the market has skewed highly towards aesthetically pleasing produce. So the fruits and vegetable that look mildly imperfect in looks are rejected, leading to a high amount of food wastage.
Another practice that contributes a lot of food wastage if product labeling. For example- consumers always confuse best buy dates as expiration dates and discard the food. Many countries face a lack of standard practice of labeling that leads to a lot of food wastage.
Technology plays an important part here. Platforms like Neighborly serve as a digital hub to bring together food donors and recipients. Google Food identifies sources of food wastage in a personal space and suggests ways to get rid of them.
4. Team up with consumers.
Food wasted by consumers has risen up with an increase in disposable income. Consumers are often confused what to do with leftovers and simply end up throwing it since there is no stigma attached to this practice, which might prevent them from doing so.
Campaigns are a great way to reach consumers. Campaign ‘Zero Hunger, Zero Wastage’ by Kroger’s used crowdsourcing as a method to interact with consumers to come up with ways to reduce food wastage.
Wondering how Big Data Analytics can help you reduce food wastage in your business? Contact us at Datahut, your big data experts.