The Shoprite Group is fighting food waste by adopting various technologies, such as artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML).
South Africa wastes up to 10.3 million tons of food each year – and this is a problem the Shoprite Group is tackling from multiple angles.
Food waste is not just a front to the hungry in a country where 2.5 million people experience hunger weekly. It also has significant environmental and economic implications.
Food is wasted across the supply chain, from farm to fork. It is a complex issue, which is why Africa’s largest food retailer has adopted systematic and comprehensive plans to address it.
“The best way to reduce food waste is to avoid it to begin with, according to Sanjeev Raghubir, the Shoprite Group’s Sustainability Manager.
“Our biggest efforts go into preventing food waste and losses before they occur.”
The Group does this by reviewing its ordering, replenishment and ranging processes, using data analytics to identify food waste hotspots. For example, by optimising the product range in its delis, the Group reduced food waste by 11% in that department.
Using Artificial Intelligence (AI) to fight food waste
“Shoprite has adopted various technologies to fight food waste,” continues Raghubir.
The Shoprite Group uses artificial intelligence and machine learning to predict sales at its stores. Replenishment orders are placed automatically, to ensure that stock is always available for customers while simultaneously reducing food waste.
Various parameters are considered by the AI model. “For example, a store close to the finish line of an annual sporting event will automatically be replenished with additional convenience meals for that single day of the year,” Raghubir says.
Salvaging and rescuing food is a popular process seeing increasing use abroad, and it’s another important piece in preventing food from being wasted. For example, blemished bananas can be used in a banana-bread recipe.
Employees assisting to combat food waste in the supermarket group.