‘Waste not, want not’…never has a saying been more apt as retailers and brands double-down on efforts to cut food waste to protect already stretched supply chains and squeezed margins.

There’s nothing new about food waste; it’s an issue retailers have struggled with for years – particularly in markets where consumers expect all of the choice, all of the time. This approach to availability can lead to overstocks in fresh and chilled categories, hence the waste. However, as global food production and distribution costs are hit by rising energy prices, extreme weather patterns and conflict[1] and waste is increasingly viewed as unacceptable by consumers, retailers must find new solutions.

Many have partnered with charities to give unsold food to food banks, centres catering for homeless people, community centres, schools and breakfast clubs. However, despite the best efforts of the food industry, there are still more than 1.3 billion tonnes of food thrown away globally – one third of all food produced[2].

Even before the current turmoil hit, estimates were that waste represented a 4% revenue loss for supermarkets, and discounting to sell items before their use-by date only helped retailers to recoup less than 1% of that loss[3].

Aside from finding new outlets for food they can no longer sell; supermarkets are also turning to technology to help make supply chains more efficient.

RFreshID™ is Checkpoint Systems’ RFID fresh food solution that allows retailers to monitor and rotate their inventory of fresh and chilled products more accurately. Recognised by the ECR Retail Loss Group as one of the top 30 most highly rated food waste innovations[4], it enables stock that is approaching its expiry date to be more easily identified, rotated and/or promoted before being deemed unfit to sell.

RFID-enabled labels are applied to products at source, which allows products to be tracked throughout the supply chain; all RFreshID labels are certified safe for direct contact with food and microwave use.

The labels also enable product consignments to be checked before shipping with a packing list generated for each destination store. Once delivered both back-of-house and shop floor cycle counts using RFreshID offer 99% inventory accuracy and can reduce labour time by 78% compared to manual counting by staff[5]. At the same time the systems offers retailers the tools and insights to keep close watch on inventory at any one time, meaning they can better understand when to re-order and/or mark down products. This accurate inventory insight helps maintain better availability of fresh and chilled products; in fact, Checkpoint customers using RFreshID report a reduction in food waste of some 60%[6].

According to research by Checkpoint Systems, more than half (58%) of consumers would be more likely to shop at a supermarket that they can see is actively trying to reduce food waste, while a quarter (25.5%)[7] said they were much more likely. This demonstrates that investing in a source-to-store solution makes sense, not only to protect the bottom line, but also brand reputation.



[1] https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2022/aug/24/food-price-rises-around-the-world-are-result-of-broken-system-say-experts

[2] https://wrap.org.uk/taking-action/food-drink

[3] www.planetretail.net report: The Challenge of Food Waste

[4] https://www.cocubed.com/ecrtop30/

[5] Checkpoint Systems data

[6] Checkpoint Systems data

[7] Checkpoint UK consumer research 2022