New startup aims to introduce the ‘internet of groceries’
Food waste figures, across the value chain, have been widely publicised. From production, through retail and consumption, more than one third of all of the food produced is wasted. It’s a significant challenge and systemic in nature, requiring a collection of innovative solutions based on a new set of principles. Wasteless, a new US-based startup, may be part of the solution utilising the latest Internet of Things (IoT) technology to provide smarter and more complex pricing and selling from grocery stores.
Most grocery stores have a system for reducing food that is set to go out of date on the day, or perhaps within a couple of days. However, Wasteless conceives a new system, contingent upon real-time tracking solutions that offers customers variable pricing based on the product’s expiration date. They claim that the so-called “Internet of Groceries” could recapture more than one billion dollars worth of food waste every week.
The concept is simple enough. A carton of eggs due to reach their sell-by-date within one week will cost less than a carton that is marked as fresh until the end of the month. Through a combination of item-level RFID sensing, dynamic pricing engine and electronic shelf labelling, the IoT-enabled platform monitors stock levels informing prices when items are on the shelf for longer than anticipated to avoid larger scale ‘last day reductions’.
“Dynamic pricing is something used daily when booking a flight, a hotel, or an Uber, and there is no reason why our groceries should be different” said Ben Biron, founder and COO of Wasteless told Digital Trends. “This is amazing for all stakeholders because it means lower prices for the consumer, more revenue for the supermarket.”
Reducing food waste losses represents a significant business opportunity for supermarkets, the US grocery industry loses $57bn every year. Wasteless is currently in a trial with a number of retailers, find out more about their project in the video below.
The full impacts of implementing Wasteless’ innovation are unclear, and it should not be viewed as a ‘silver bullet’ solution. However, it is an example of the potential for new technologies to enable previously inconceivable business models, and ways of managing flows of food, energy and materials, and it does sit successfully at the nexus between a positive business opportunity, increased value for customers and better outcomes for the environment.