A large amount of fresh food loss and waste occurs every day because of the inability to accurately and objectively predict shelf life. We provide information on food loss and waste prevention to distributors and wholesalers in the food supply chain. One of the main technologies that leads to improved inventory management is shelf life prediction. With this technology implemented, companies can move towards dynamic routing, which allows for higher quality produce at grocery stores. This blog details the different types of shelf life prediction technology, what it takes to implement these blockchain solutions, the benefits of dynamic routing and inventory management, and how to get this process started.


“By 2030, halve per capita global food waste at the retail and consumer levels and reduce food losses along production and supply chains, including post-harvest losses.”

– UN SDG 12.3


What are the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals?

The United Nations has developed an agenda to stimulate action through 2030 across 17 Sustainable Development Goals and 169 targets which aim to “strengthen universal peace” by way of collaborative partnership. These goals call for all countries, whether developed or developing, to join in a global partnership to work toward ending poverty, improving health and education, reducing inequality, and spurring economic growth while tracking climate change and preserving oceans and forests. UN SDG 12.3 is the specific section discussed in this post.

 

UN SDG 12

 

United Nations SDG 12 and Indicator 12.3

UN SDG 12 urges sustainable consumption and production patterns. Within this goal, Indicator 12.3 focuses on global food loss and waste. Food loss pertains to food lost from production up to (but not including) the retail level. Food waste pertains to food lost at retail and consumption levels.

Context: The Problems with Food Waste

If food wastage were a country, it would be the 3rd largest greenhouse gas emitter, behind China and the United States. In the U.S. alone, approximately 40% of food goes uneaten. That’s 96 billion pounds in a year, or 263 million pounds per day. So, about 80 million acres are used to grow food that ends up as waste (roughly the size of New Mexico, or 75% of California).

Moreover, one day of food waste in the U.S. could fill the Rose Bowl – a 90,000 seat stadium in Pasadena, California. In all, food is the largest component of municipal solid waste that is landfilled, and 16% of all methane (CH4) emissions (which are over 20 times more potent than carbon dioxide emissions) are released from landfilled food.

a landfill with food waste

Consequences of Food Waste 

In total, food production utilizes 80% of all freshwater consumed, 10% of all energy, and 50% of land. In the U.S., where 40% of food is wasted, 32% of U.S. freshwater, 4% of the U.S. energy budget, and 25% of U.S. land usage is also wasted. Meanwhile, that food waste contributes to 25% more methane emissions.

Globally, 1.4 billion hectares of land (28% of the world’s agricultural area) is used to produce food that is lost or wasted. If this land were a country, it would be the second-largest (5.4 million square miles), behind only Russia (6.6 million square miles).

•  Economic Impact

The economic impacts of food waste pertain to costs of disposal, labor, and the degradation of our soil, waterways, and air. In the U.S., $161 billion are lost in the food industry each year. Perhaps even more concerning is the relationship between food waste and hunger, food insecurity, and poverty.

In the U.S., in 2010, 17.2 million households were food insecure, meaning that it was difficult to provide sufficient food for everyone in those homes. Furthermore, 46 million Americans relied on SNAP benefits (previously known as food stamps). Meanwhile, reducing food losses in the U.S. by even 30% would be enough to feed 50 million Americans every year if distributed properly.

•  Social Impact

With an increasing global population, there is a call for more food production, but it is already here – it’s just being wasted! Safe and nutritious food that is otherwise wasted could actually feed 2 billion people (more than double the amount of undernourished people in the world) and saving only one-fourth of food currently wasted could feed 870 million hungry people. Latin America and Africa could feed 600 million people, and Europe could feed 200 million people.

So, cutting food loss and waste could reduce poverty and hunger by feeding people in need. Also, it fights climate change by reducing the amount of food waste in landfills. Reducing food waste is the 3rd top solution to climate change, behind improving refrigeration management and utilizing onshore wind turbines. This is an issue that all parts of the food system can take simple steps to improve.

rotting apples

Impact and Results from UN SDG 12.3

By tracking and measuring food waste and loss, the idea is to improve the efficiency of the food supply system and demonstrate how policy and investment can positively affect this process. By collecting data throughout harvest, post-production, storage, transportation, primary processing, and wholesales stages, countries can create programs that improve the efficiency of their own domestic food supply chain.

OneThird and UN SDG 12.3

OneThird was founded on the basis of helping all parts of the food supply chain reach the goals set forth by UN SDG 12.3.

We believe objectively predicting the shelf life of fresh produce and acting on this information will have a tremendous impact on preventing food waste.

Our solutions enable retailers, distributors and growers to better assess the quality of their produce and optimize its flow, thus maximizing supply chain efficiency. To learn more about how we would work in your business, contact us via our webpage or email us directly at info@onethird.io.

 

one third logo

The Food Waste Problem

Food waste is an issue that affects every area of the food system. Supply chains, restaurants, consumers, and really anywhere food travels has some amount of waste. And according to the FAO, we waste 1.3 billion tons of food per year. Sadly, it is almost inevitable that some food will be wasted or a surplus will be produced. However, it is best to know what to do with that extra food to provide the largest socioeconomic benefits.

That’s why the Food Recovery Hierarchy was created.

What is the Food Recovery Hierarchy?

The EPA created the Food Recovery Hierarchy to help those in the food system prioritize different methods for managing surplus food. Items at the top are higher priority and have the largest socioeconomic benefit, while the items at the bottom are not preferable.

UN food recovery hierarchy

Where Should I Focus My Food Recovery Solutions?

It’s best practice to start at the top of the pyramid and make every effort in one section before moving to the next. For example, you should always find how to reduce surplus food generated at the source first. The order is as follows:

  1. Source Reduction
  2. Feed Hungry People
  3. Feed Animals
  4. Industrial Uses
  5. Composting
  6. Landfill/Incineration

Each of these sections is explained below.

1. Source Reduction

strawberries

The best way to recover food is to not have surplus food in the first place. Just think about how much money and effort is put into food that makes it all the way through the supply chain and then is just thrown away because there is not a demand for it or it is not high enough quality for a consumer.

There are numerous ways to reduce food waste at the source. Having more accurate inventory management and demand planning are two key ways this is accomplished.

2. Feed Hungry People

handing out oranges

The next best thing to do is to feed hungry people. Million of people are food insecure and don’t know when their next meal will be. Do not send dumpsters full of food to the landfill or to be converted to energy when these people are in need. It has never been easier to donate to a non-profit, and you can rest assured knowing that there are good samaritan laws in place to legally protect your organization from liabilities.

You should search on Google for the best non-profits near you to donate to. There are also programs, such as MealConnect, that make this easy. 

3. Feed Animals

cow chewing

Feeding animals is the next highest on the list. Why? Well for starters, they can eat food that has gone past human consumption ability. Also, feeding animals is a huge hit to the environment. Cows can eat up to 120 pounds of wet feed a day alone! Stomachs of cows and other livestock are much more durable than those in humans and they are able to process rotten produce much better than us.

So when donating to people is out of the question, the millions of farm animals around the world will gladly accept your food. 

4. Industrial Uses

industrial plant

Industrial use is something that has garnered a lot of interest lately and has a nice appeal to it. Using crops that would be trash and converting it to energy or fuel? Sounds like a great concept. While technology is improving, you may be curious as to why it is still below feeding humans and animals in the food recovery hierarchy. This is because all of the food going into these processes, such as anaerobic digestion, have costs for gallons of water, fertilizer, labor, transportation, sorting, and processing already included. There are much cheaper ways of generating energy than this.

If you have gotten past the point where donating to humans is an option and donating to animals for feed is out of the question, this is certainly the next best option. But again, more emphasis should be placed on reducing the amount of food waste in the first place so you don’t have to make the decision this far down. Food rotting in a landfill and in an anaerobic digestion facility are not too far apart. 

5. Composting

compost

Composting and adding to the landfill are similar to anaerobic digestion and energy recovery in that the food is still rotting away and emitting greenhouse gases. However, it is still more ideal than sending food off to a landfill because the nutrients can be repurposed for growing more crops. It can be done almost anywhere and is great for food scraps.

6. Landfill/Incineration

wasted food

Adding food to the landfill is the worst-case scenario. Leaving food to rot and letting go of all of the energy that was put into making it is not a good thing. The methane that is produced is at least 20x more potent in the atmosphere than carbon dioxide and there is no benefit to any living thing to having it sit in a landfill.  

Conclusion

Hopefully, this explanation of the food recovery hierarchy helps you make more informed decisions about how to manage your food waste and helped you realize the benefits, both social and economic, on preventing food waste in the first place. To learn more about ways you can prevent food waste, check out our blog.

How We Can Help

OneThird makes shelf life prediction solutions to prevent food waste, so you are staying at the top of the pyramid. We work with growers, distributors, and retailers to make smarter decisions about food by measuring shelf life.

If you’re interested in learning more about shelf life prediction, be sure to read The Ultimate Guide to Fresh Produce Shelf Life Prediction.

Ultimate Guide to Fresh Produce Shelf Life Prediction

To learn more about how we can help you reduce your food waste, visit Our Solutions.

truck shipping produce

What is dynamic routing?

Dynamic routing involves determining the best route for something based on the current set of conditions.

In the food supply chain, an example would be sending fresh produce to retailer sites based on the expected shelf life of the produce. This ensures that the food nearest to expiration goes to the closest stores and spends the least time in transportation until it is on the shelf.

As technology develops further and supply chains become more connected, dynamic routing is the obvious direction moving forward. And it’s no surprise that this is the dream state for many supply chains in the food system. It is critical to get products to consumers well before the expiration date.

What is needed for dynamic routing of fresh produce?

fresh produce

To dynamically route fresh produce, 3 things are needed:

  1. The ability to measure shelf-life and freshness accurately (within 1 day)
  2. A method or system for deciding the routing patterns
  3. Communication of routing decisions

Why is technology so necessary for dynamic routing?

making decisions at computer

Fresh produce does not have the same shelf life between batches. Some are longer than average and some are shorter. Thus, there is no way to have dynamic routing without shelf life predictions, and there is no benefit to dynamic routing unless it is accurate.

Regardless of how accurate the shelf life prediction is, there is no benefit to dynamic routing unless there is a system for implementing it. Therefore, it is important to have all recipients of a given type of produce sorted by distance and finding the most efficient path to get the fresh produce to them.

Software is typically needed for this because the data is always changing and a computer is the only realistic way to keep up with it.

Communicating routing decisions is critical to ensure that dynamic routing is followed. Unless all stakeholders know exactly what their role is and where to send each batch, this can be a complicated process.

However, with the proper dynamic routing software, this makes jobs easier for employees as they know exactly what to do with each batch.

What are the benefits of dynamic routing?

fresh produce in store

The benefits of dynamic routing in the fresh produce supply chain include:

  • Maximized shelf life
  • Reduced amount of food waste 
  • Savings of wasted food cost
  • Large environmental impact
  • Improved product freshness
  • Increase in sales
  • Improved brand perception
  • Fresher products donated

What are the different ways you can measure produce shelf life?

There are a few technologies available that allow for measuring produce freshness. The most important metric to look for is accuracy in measurement. Therefore, if the accuracy is not within a day, the dynamic routing system will not work optimally.

Different ways of measuring product freshness include:

  • Allowing products to sit on the shelf and measure expiration
  • Measuring ethylene oxide released by produce
  • Using product specifications and imaging
  • Determining internal properties and comparing to a static standard
  • Implementing scanning with AI algorithms to involve many factors

The best technology to predict shelf life is the only that is most accurate for a specific type of produce. This may even be a combination of different methods.

What should you look for in dynamic routing technology?

It’s nearly impossible to fully implement dynamic routing without a solid technology stack. Here are some things to look for when evaluating different dynamic routing solutions.

  • Cloud platform to connect various stakeholders
  • Bi-directional data flow
  • Data analytics and suggestions
  • Mobile app
  • Accurate scanning technology and integration with software
  • APIs to connect to logistics software

What’s the next step for implementing dynamic routing?

The next step should be to contact a company that specializes in dynamic routing and shelf life prediction and offers a full technology stack. The earlier communication begins with a company, the quicker you are to saving money and implementing changes.

What does OneThird do in terms of dynamic routing?

OneThird offers the full technology package necessary to implement dynamic routing for all parts of the food supply chain.

With handheld scanners developed by the leaders in applied spectral knowledge (Ocean Insight), a cloud platform, and mobile app to process data and communicate routing, and an expert team of data scientists and researchers, OneThird is the ideal solution to implement dynamic routing.

Above all, OneThird is focused on preventing food waste by helping customers make smart business decisions.

If you would like to learn more about how you can implement dynamic routing in your supply chain, contact OneThird today.

 

Ultimate Guide to Fresh Produce Shelf Life Prediction

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food waste of fruits

Reducing food waste is an important initiative for retailers and distributors because of the socioeconomic and environmental benefits it provides. However, it can be easy to get lost in all of the solutions available. This post is to provide 11 methods to reduce food waste and the order of importance in doing so.