Combating food waste in retail: Pioneering technology cuts price as product expires
06 Jul 2018 --- Wasteless, a start-up company which creates high-tech systems to tackle some of the biggest challenges in retail is now targeting growth in European markets. As the disruptive business prepares to expand across the grocery sector, the company is focused on fighting food waste by tracking products on the shelf and dropping the price as they get close to their expiration date. The company has just moved its head office to Amsterdam in a bid to break through into European markets.
Founded in 2016 and with operations in Tel Aviv and New York, Wasteless brings data to groceries through “item level tracking” which is used to monitor individual items. This gives retailers the chance to tag items on the retail floor and continuously monitor what is being sold, from where and now, thanks to the system, products will automatically drop in price as they approach the expiration date.
The company hails its system as a breakthrough in the fight against food waste, claiming it’s all about “turning supermarket trash into cash.”
This is a world-first, according to Wasteless, which has recently launched the first machine learning and real-time tracking solution for grocery stores, offering shoppers something known as “dynamic pricing” based on the product expiration date.
Inventory inefficiencies are one of the main challenges in retail and systems are designed to continuously monitor stock levels to anticipate when items are out-of-stock or low-in-stock.
Wasteless says it allows supermarkets to sell more and waste less because its solution leverages dynamic pricing that lets consumers choose how much they want to pay for a product based on its expiration date.
By continuously monitoring stock levels, Wasteless knows if an item is almost out of stock, the store is alerted. If it has been on the shelf for too long, the price can be automatically reduced. This means that supermarkets never run out of popular products.
Electronic shelf labeling
Wasteless combines item-level RFID sensing, a sophisticated dynamic pricing engine and electronic shelf labeling. These technologies allow retailers to use the power of the Internet of Things and machine learning to impact their sales.
In addition, it continuously tracks product information such as expiration date, Batch ID, and location to generate a unique ID code for each product. Shoppers can then select a product that expires in two to three weeks for the regular price, or one that expires in one to three days for a fraction of the cost.
The Wasteless Dynamic Pricing Engine takes into account 43 factors such as supply, demand, location and time when calculating a price for a product. Wasteless says that the technology recaptures lost revenue opportunities like food waste cost and out of stock costs. It, therefore, creates new revenue opportunities by increasing the availability of products.
Several retailers are currently trialing Wasteless.
Expanding its activities to the Netherlands comes after Wasteless received a capital injection worth “a couple of million” from Dutch venture capitalist firm Slingshot Ventures, an entrepreneur-focused investment business also based in the Netherlands.
Speaking to FoodIngredientsFirst, Marco Pieters, founder of Slingshot Ventures says: “Wasteless is the real deal, a company developing disruptive technologies with global potential.”
“Their solution helps supermarkets to become more profitable while minimizing waste. Together with a successful, scalable business model, we believe that this investment provides a triple win: for people, the planet and profit.”
According to statistics from Wasteless, supermarkets in the US lose an average of US$2,300 per store, per day as a result of out-of-date food that then has to be thrown away. This results in a US$57 billion annual loss for the US grocery industry alone.
A supermarket’s ability to manage its inventory in real-time can help recover losses like this as well as offer cut-price items to consumers while preventing unnecessary food waste from products being discarded as the expiration date has lapsed.