Food waste is a big issue in the world today. How big is the problem? A staggering one-third of all food produced is wasted. With one in eight people in the world suffering from chronic undernourishment, food waste is not only a business problem but is also a humanitarian issue. Most information on this topic points to waste by consumers and in the retail space; however, the transport of food is one place where food waste can be combatted.
Businesses can make a huge difference in reducing food waste. According to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), more than 40-percent of food is lost in the pre-consumption stage during the harvest, drying, storage, and transport of food. Whether it is upholding nutrition, taste or quality, a crucial factor in guaranteeing more food is fit for consumption is how quickly food moves from crop to consumer. Here are a few ways that businesses can help reduce food waste, preserve profitability, and do their part to fight hunger.
When all stakeholders in the full supply chain come together and share data this is perhaps the greatest opportunity to reduce waste. A standard model for this includes a three-point system. First, stakeholders, including everyone from manufacturers to logistics providers to end-point retailers come together to visualize where the most waste and spoilage occurs. Then, they need to look at the logistics piece to see what efficiencies can be made such as rethinking supply chain order of operations. Finally, retailers need to create emergency solutions for waste reduction such as lowering prices for products approaching their “best used by” date at the retail level.
One of the most innovative ways of reducing food waste in the supply chain is the utilization of biosensors. This emerging technology is used to detect contaminants in food and transmit the data in a measurable way to reduce food waste. They report on problem areas in real-time so solutions can be put in place quickly to prevent the same issue from happening in the future. This innovative technology helps prevent both food waste and food contamination.
Harnessing Data Analytics
One of the keys to a successful supply chain is data analytics. By reviewing the data at hand, businesses can find the largest sources of waste in their supply chain. The data can sometimes indicate that the supply chain needs to be restructured. Perhaps in some situations, a harvest is happening too soon in comparison with the processing timeline. Other times, cold chain technology and processing methods need to be adjusted. By utilizing data, businesses can pinpoint where waste can be eliminated in the most significant way, thus reducing waste dramatically.
Reducing food waste is a meaningful way to stabilize and increase revenue. It is also a win-win in the fight against hunger. Food waste is a problem for everyone and businesses that proactively look to reduce food waste are not only doing smart business but ethical business as well.