Supply Chain Dive recently reported on advancements in technologies that are addressing food inventory management challenges across the supply chain. The following innovations are transforming how food businesses mitigate food waste, extend product shelf life, and more effectively transport food to consumers. The examples presented here are representative of the technologies currently available in the marketplace, but are not intended to serve as a comprehensive list. RecyclingWorks in Massachusetts (RecyclingWorks) does not recommend or endorse any specific product or service.
Software for Food Waste Reduction
Several startups have developed software platforms that analyze in-house collected food waste data to improve visibility and management decision making capability. Some of the following solution providers are also referenced in the RecyclingWorks Source Reduction of Food Waste Guidance:
- Spoiler Alert, a Massachusetts-based organization, helps food service businesses track and donate unsold inventory. Their software syncs with the business inventory list and automatically communicates unsold product to food rescue organizations, making it convenient to donate food.
- Startups Winnow and LeanPath aim to reduce discarded food in commercial kitchens by collecting data from a smart scale attached to a food waste bin. These software packages produce daily reports, which help staff track their waste and identify the root causes of food losses.
- Targeting grocery stores, Wasteless has improved standard retail shelf tags by creating digital labeling that allows dynamic pricing. As a product approaches its expiration date, the price is automatically lowered to increase its likelihood of selling.
Biotechnology-Based Solutions for Produce Longevity
According to Refed, fruits and vegetables account for 40% of all food waste, so it is critical to address produce spoilage issues whenever possible. A few companies have created biotechnology-based solutions that directly improve produce longevity. Apeel Sciences makes a transparent, edible coating that when applied to produce, slows down spoilage. Another startup, Hazel Technologies, has designed a small packet that can be inserted into packaging to extend shelf life and improve the quality of produce.
Advanced Imagery and Analytics to Detect Produce Freshness
San Francisco-based startup ImpactVision uses hyperspectral imagery to visually inspect the freshness of an avocado without damaging the fruit’s skin. For avocado distributors, this technology replaces the destructive sample-based ripeness tests that generate unnecessary food waste. Another quality assessment technology developed by AgShift uses a mobile application to determine defects in produce that will lead to spoilage.
Real-Time Sensor Monitoring for Food Distribution
A few vendors also offer solutions that help food distributors monitor their cargo in real-time. For example, Maersk Line’s Remote Container Management enables distributors to monitor refrigerated shipping containers in real-time as they move. The software syncs with sensors that measure the containers’ temperature and quickly identifies when a refrigerator is malfunctioning, ensuring produce cargo do not spoil. Freshurety, a Florida-based startup, is measuring produce freshness with a network of pallet sensors that detect the presence of ethylene, a chemical that is emitted as produce spoils and indicate the exact location of the source. Receiving businesses that understand the quality of produce while it is still on the pallet can more easily reduce waste by utilizing it for different purposes based on freshness; for example, using the ripest fruits and vegetables in prepared dishes.
RecyclingWorks assists businesses and institutions with reuse, recycling, and food waste diversion. We specialize in all forms of food recovery, from source reduction and donating surplus food to source separation of food scraps. To speak to a recycling and food waste diversion expert or to learn more about our no-cost technical assistance services, call the RecyclingWorks hotline: (888) 254-5525 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.