Recover Margins by Reducing Waste
Reducing food waste is fairly straightforward once you understand the cause. For example, there’s a common misconception that poor in-store handling is the root cause of fresh food waste, because decay and spoilage often materialize at the store. As a result, blame is often placed on store associates who, in fact, probably did nothing wrong.
Freshness of produce, or lack thereof, is a function of how a product is handled from the moment of harvest to consumption. To address this, the industry needs to implement real-time monitoring and management of the produce at the pallet level at every stage of the fresh food supply chain. This provides a true picture of exactly how much freshness each pallet of produce has left. As a result, products can be effectively managed based on their actual remaining shelf life to reduce waste.
Why each pallet? Why not just the entire lot and its harvest date?
The industry assumption that all produce harvested on the same day will stay fresh for the same amount of time is flawed. Many variables can heavily affect the remaining shelf life of produce after it’s harvested, including:
- Harvest conditions
- Cut-to-cool time
- Shipping and handling
Studies have shown as much as 16 days of pallet-level freshness variability for some types of fruit received at a retail distribution center. Furthermore, the visual inspections that grocers often rely on are inaccurate, as a fruit or vegetable with five days of remaining freshness may look the same as one with 10 days left.
The industry needs an accurate view of which produce has sufficient remaining shelf life to meet their freshness and sales requirements, and which produce will fall short and spoil before it can be sold and consumed. By leveraging actionable insights about remaining freshness, the necessary measures to reduce waste become clear, and grocers and other members of the supply chain can manage the variables affecting shelf life at the pallet level in real time.
Armed with this information, grocers can implement proactive, intelligent pallet routing and manage inventory and deliveries appropriately. For example, pallets with lesser shelf life can be sent to local stores, and those with more shelf life to more distant locations. Grocers then avoid unexpected spoiling in the warehouse due to unclear freshness, and can guarantee that consumers enjoy consistently fresh products, so everybody wins. Further, without eating the cost of waste, grocers can rapidly improve margins and more effectively compete in today’s market.