Earth Day: How AI is helping drive down food waste


According to the UN, food waste amounted to 1.05 billion tonnes worldwide in 2022. — AFP Relaxnews

As intriguing for some as it is threatening for others, artificial intelligence is nonetheless an additional tool in the fight to reduce food waste, estimated at 1.05 billion tonnes worldwide in 2022, according to recent UN data.

This Earth Day, here’s a look at three initiatives that are using this new technology to help find solutions to the problem of food waste.

Dynamic pricing adjusts as the expiry date approaches

In Tel Aviv, a startup has developed a system of dynamic price labels that adjust as the food’s expiry date approaches. It’s then up to the consumer to make a conscious choice, preferring to spend less and/or choose a given product to help reduce waste.

Logically, it’s often the less successful products that benefit from this kind of price adjustment. According to Wasteless, this technology could reduce food waste by at least 40%.

To achieve this, the company uses artificial intelligence, which, based on a sum of data, can determine how to adjust prices according to stock levels, the nature of the product and the expiry date.

Making smart use of the contents of your fridge

What refrigerator contains no leftovers? There might always seem to be some leftover pasta lying around, or some zucchinis and peppers for that soup you never got around to making.

Packed in airtight boxes, or worse, shoved into the bottom of the appliance, things can quickly get forgotten or overlooked.

That's why Hellmann’s has launched the Meal Reveal app. Powered by Google Cloud’s artificial intelligence technology, the app recognises all the contents of a fridge when scanned by your smartphone camera.

Recipes are then generated to encourage consumers to use up what they’ve got and reduce food waste. The app is free and can be launched directly via a QR Code on the Unilever-owned brand's website.

Offering retailers a fresh approach to sourcing

Consumers are often entrusted with the responsibility of limiting food waste by better adapting their purchases and planning their meals. But responsibility also lies with industry, in this case retailers.

That’s why a Berlin-based startup called FreshFlow has developed software that provides precise information on how to restock shelves with perishable foodstuffs, particularly fruit and vegetables. These goods are a particular source of food waste, due to their short shelf-life, but also because of the need to keep shelves stocked with enough produce to tempt consumers with fresh, appetising-looking food.

This new system is powered by artificial intelligence, which determines which varieties of food to add to the shelves and which orders to place.

According to FreshFlow, €50bil (RM295bil) worth of fresh produce is thrown away by retailers in Europe every year due to poor stock management. – AFP Relaxnews

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