Despite increasing concerns surrounding food waste, more than 89 million tonnes of food are thrown away every year[1] in Europe. And with a growing world population – forecast to reach roughly 10.9 billion by 2100[2] – coupled with depleting natural resources, this situation is likely to get worse unless significant changes are made.

Tackling the problem of food waste is high on the agenda. The grocery retail sector contributes some 5% to the total amount of food thrown away annually, often due to expired perishable products, equating to more than 4.45 million tonnes[3]. As such, supermarkets are under mounting pressure to reduce food waste levels. Since the start of the pandemic, 48% of consumers reported that they are throwing away less food and so customers expect retailers to follow suit[4]. According to one survey, 92% of customers believe supermarkets have a responsibility to reduce food waste, with only 3% saying they do not feel the onus is on the retailer[5].

Managing sell-by dates on perishable goods requires retailers to have a total view of their inventory at any given time. Here, inventory accuracy not only ensures brand owners can have a complete view of all merchandise and its location within the supply chain but reduce lost sales and improve efficiency.

Between 50-60% of supermarket sales derive from the perishable category[6] meaning fresh food retailers face an extremely difficult challenge in managing sell-by dates.

Typically, retailers have relied on time-intensive, visual inspections to detect the sell-by dates on perishable products and manage replenishment needs, with less than half using an automated system to control inventory levels, but not expiry dates.

In addition, discounting food items with a short sell-by date recoups just 0.75% of the 4% revenue loss that comes from food shrinkage and waste[7]. In the already highly competitive grocery sector, where retailers have typically slim margins, discounted or unsold food items can be a major challenge for retailers.

The solution: Improving inventory management

Today, less than half (47%) of food retailers use some kind of automated system to help to control stock, but not expiry dates[8]. However, by improving inventory management, retailers can revolutionise the visibility of perishable goods helping to tackle the issue of food waste, reduce lost sales, improve efficiency and availability.

Checkpoint Systems’ new RFreshIDTM fresh food solution uses RFID technology to help stores manage and rotate stock efficiently by improving inventory visibility and accurately identifying produce with near or exceeded sell-by dates.

The ground-breaking technology enables retailers to precisely plan when replenishments are required, as well as proactively manage fresh food, helping to make the right decisions to sell more and waste less. Checkpoint customers using the solution have already noted reduced food waste levels by as much as 60%[9], while also minimising the time spent required to manually check merchandise by up to 78%[10]. Improvements in inventory accuracy were also noted, achieving up to 99.99%[11] in the stock room and up to 99%[12] on the sales floor.

The application of RFreshIDTM at source enables retailers to receive RFID tagged products, that can be quickly verified, aiding a high inventory accuracy. To achieve this, Checkpoint’s high-performance RFID labels are automatically applied during the production process. This not only improves the accuracy of shipments distributed from the point of manufacture but ensures accurate, timely deliveries in store.

Secondly, RFreshIDTM scanning process enables store personnel on the shop floor to use an intuitive handheld device that quickly and accurately counts and locates specific items. This works in conjunction with the RFreshIDTMreporting software to deliver real-time actionable data that includes insights on replenishment, expiration, markdown, waste reports, products to restock and order, as well as items that are about to expire or have expired. Finally, and completing the cycle from delivery to disposal, RFreshIDTM waste process provides insights into the number of products that have expired and helps managing the fresh food waste process automatically removing the product from inventory records.

The shelf life of perishable merchandise presents a unique challenge for grocery retailers. But by improving inventory management and replenishment, retailers can not only enjoy a increase in sales but crucially reduce current levels of avoidable and costly food waste.

ENDS

[1] https://ec.europa.eu/food/safety/food_waste_en

[2] https://www.un.org/en/development/desa/population/publications/pdf/popfacts/PopFacts_2019-6.pdf

[3] https://www.eurocommerce.eu/media/134575/Food%20Waste%20Brochure%20-%20final.pdf

[4] https://www.thegrocer.co.uk/food-waste/why-there-can-be-no-more-excuses-for-supermarket-food-waste/647691.article

[5] https://www.thegrocer.co.uk/food-waste/supers-responsible-for-reducing-food-waste-say-shoppers/571377.article

[6] https://www.gs1.org/sites/default/files/gs1_uk_the_challenge_of_food_waste.pdf

[7] https://www.gs1.org/sites/default/files/gs1_uk_the_challenge_of_food_waste.pdf

[8] Source: II Estudio Gestión del desperdicio alimentario en frescos en la gran distribución elaborated by Nielsen with the collaboration of AECOC

[9] Checkpoint internal studies

[10] Checkpoint internal studies

[11] Checkpoint internal studies

[12] Checkpoint internal studies