Food loss and wastage is a significant pain-point in many industries and over the years, the issue is rising at a rapid pace. According to a source, the food waste that is generated in the retail industry is $47 billion (just in the US).
Talking about food wastage in India, the nation is facing major challenges in the supply chain process. It is basically the gaps, which, if addressed, can help reduce food wastage in the nation. However, with the help of some of the latest technology and systems, the world’s second most populous country believes that I can step in to cope with the problem of food wastage.
Organisations in India have started to look at the significance of certain technologies that can be used to reduce food wastage. That is not all, companies have also started to invest in things like logistics and supply chain technologies, the blockchain, AI, data monitoring, storage and packaging solutions.
Intelligent and Innovative System Combating Food Wastage
Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, and Data Science over the years have evolved to become something incredible, supporting people in making the best decisions. Today, these intelligent systems have marked their presence in several other industries, and the food industry is one of them.
For example, if look at a supermarket, there is a lot of food items that go to waste every day, and this is mostly because of a bad demand forecasting. In this scenario, machine learning can play a vital role and reduce the amount of food wastage. With the help of previous data on how much food goes to waste, how much a product gets to sell, machine learning can build a better demand forecasting. It would help supermarket owners to order items at an adequate level — not more or not less.
Another instance is the partnership between Hitachi and a hospital. In order to monitor food waste, The Japanese company Hitachi partners with a hospital to use AI. Hospitals always witness a significant amount of food wastage because of several reasons. One of the reasons is when patients aren’t eating — in this case, it is not just about food waste but also about health implications.
The concept is to mount a camera on the trolley that collects trays. The camera would take pictures of the leftovers, which would later be examined by the Hitachi’s deep learning algorithms. So, with the help of the after meal analysis, Hitachi would be able to recognise patterns in the leftovers that humans otherwise could not see.
Talkin about using a camera to monitor food, MIT has a food cam. It works in a very simple and organic manner. Suppose there is some leftover edible food, you just need to press the food cam button and it shares the image of food on channels like Twitter, Slack and a mailing list. Once it is shared, people who want to eat can come and get it. Simple concept yet one of the most effective. And to the surprise, it was invented back in 1999, before Facebook, Gmail, etc. was introduced.
Based out in the US, Agshift is another great example of a company that is fighting food wastage. The company has developed an autonomous food inspection system that uses deep learning. The models can analyse the defects in the sample images and predict the overall quality of the sample.
If we look at the India scenario, the food wastage is mostly because of a poor supply chain. Therefore, it has become imperative for Indian food companies to adopt technology at every stage of the supply chain. The reefer-container is one such innovation that is playing a prime role to cope with the issue of food wastage. The container is not only helping in keeping the food fresh for over a month but also helping to enable agriculture producers to safely send all products across geographies.
Intelligent and innovative systems can without a doubt improve planning in the supply chain. And the Indian Govt. is taking initiatives in building infrastructure for the food industry and combat food wastage.
SAP Use Case
In order to solve the pain-point of food wastage, SAP worked with Costco to build an intelligent system to help the US retailer to load years of business data and external parameters such as promotion, coupons etc. that Costco gave to its customers. Using the loaded data the company was able to build a model that learnt this and was able to predict how much food has to be kept on self on a daily basis to meet the sales target efficiently. This not only helped Costco to scale its business but also help in cope with the food wastage problem.
That is not all, the system was able to monitor the sales and the ongoing wastage and loop it back to better its prediction.
It is not at all an exaggeration when we say that food wastage is one of the biggest problems that the human race is witnessing today. Governments and companies across the world have taken several initiatives to fight this issue, however, it isn’t an easy task. Technology is also playing its part in the battle to mitigate food wastage, but until and unless we don’t act, this issue won’t is solved completely.