Going Digital to Fight Food Waste
The scale of the global food waste problem is staggering. With one-third of the total amount of food produced globally being misused, the industry needs to look towards innovation and digitalization to combat this ever-growing trend, writes dr. Felix Flemming of Tomra Food in a recent article.
According to reports, 1.6 billion tons of foods are lost or waste every year, equating to a total value of USD1.2tr being wiped from the supply chain.
But according to the Tomra specialist, through embracing technology and digitalizing the food supply chain, a move can be made towards reducing the amount of food waste and loss within the industry. Not only that, but it can also help ensure there’s enough resource to sustainability support for future global population.
With the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals setting a target of halving food loss and waste by 2030, this article investigates why a digital transformation can help reduce food waste and loss.
Utilizing loT in the Supply Chain
Through having better levels of communication across the supply chain, the amount of food waste produced can be reduced. Each aspect of the supply chain must be in constant contact with one another to ensure our resources are managed efficiently.
This is where the Internet of Things (IoT) can support and improve supply chain efficiencies. Based on having interconnected and interrelated systems and processes, IoT allows each aspects of the food industry to have access to key data around the supply, production and management of produce, which can help reduce the amount of waste created. Without the wider adoption of loT in the food supply chain, the levels of food waste could increase by 50-90% as a result of several combined factors, such as the increase in food demand due to the ever-growing population.
By allowing all stakeholders within the supply chain access to key data shared across integrated systems, processes can be optimized further along in the chain to maximize how the produce is handled. For example, a bad batch of apples with a high percentage of internal browning would require a specific equipment set up and would need to be fine-tuned to ensure the maximum value can be extracted from the apples. It is believed having this connectivity could save the supply chain up to USD60bn in waste.
Through having this pre-warning of any information regarding a batch of produce, farmers can not only optimize their yields by reducing the risk of waste, but the other stakeholders can also plan accordingly to try and prevent the cause of waste.
Having this ability to share data through IoT can also help reduce waste from a consumer standpoint. Retailers could use the real-time data in stores to showcase when the produce was harvested or picked and offer insights into the projected “sell by date”. This can educate consumers further on how long they have to eat the produce, thus helping reduce food waste through the implementation of technology.
Going Digital to Fight Food Waste
With the ever-rising stats around food waste, now is the time for the industry to adopt a more digitalized approach across the supply chain. Implementing integrated and innovative systems will allow all key stakeholders, from field to fork, to efficiently manage food and reduce the risk of waste at loss.
Digitalization won’t just help from a sustainability aspect, but also aid businesses drive their own profitability by improving processes and efficiencies. It becomes the answer to the push-pull paradox for commercial benefit and combating global food waste.
Tomra is committed to creating sensor-based sorting and grading systems to help the supply chain win the battle against food waste. Through their systems, the company aims to help food businesses maximize yields and ensure any produce can be recovered and reused, increase productivity with high capacity sorting and provide consistent high-quality food assurance.
Tomra also understands that the next steps need to be taken. Tomra Insight is the answer to connect sorting and grading systems, extract valuable information on the sorting performance and the produce, and make it transparent to the food businesses. Incorporating this further into a digitalized supply chain will help to close the link from farm to fork in the future.