Food waste in the grocery industry has been a topic of importance for many years, particularly as the global drive for sustainability intensifies. It is not only an issue vital to climate change, but it is also a significant problem for grocery store profits – excessive waste has the potential to narrow profit margins and increase spending, putting businesses at risk.
With waste reduction being a priority for many food retailers, IoT smart sensor technology is fast becoming the solution of choice for tackling this issue. An affordable solution, smart sensors can be used by any business in the grocery sector, writes Bengt Johannes Lundberg, CEO of Disruptive Technologies exclusively for Grocery Trader. Tiny in size, wireless, and with long battery life, smart sensor technology allows for constant accurate monitoring of cold storage remotely. Their size means that they can easily be placed in cold storage units without hindering their use or taking up valuable storage space.
Some may question whether a solution as simple as smart temperature monitoring will have the desired impact on the prevention of food waste. However, IoT temperature management has demonstrated the ability to reduce up to 40% of food waste in food retail and storage businesses. This is a result of effective alert systems that can detect any fault or temperature change in cold storage units, immediately notifying selected devices through a cloud connector. Real-time information is available from afar, and when issues arise, they can be corrected immediately. Alerts can not only be sent to managers, but also to service technicians so that faults can be identified and rectified with speed.
For example, a large cold storage unit containing refrigerated food produce runs into a fault, causing the temperature of the unit to start to rise above the recommended food storage temperature for the products. Without any wireless cloud-based monitoring, the fault goes unnoticed for a number of hours. It cannot be determined as to exactly when the fault occurred, so the food is assumed to be spoiled and will not be sold.
With smart sensor technology, the fault in the cold storage unit is immediately detected as the temperature starts to rise. An alert is issued through the cloud connector to both the manager and a service technician indicating the temperature change, which can then be rectified as soon as possible. If necessary, all produce can be transferred to a working cold storage unit, so it does not become spoiled. For larger warehouses and supermarkets, this could save hundreds of items from unnecessary waste.
Sustainability – and meeting ESG (Environmental, Social and Governance) criteria – has become incredibly impactful in the running of a successful and lasting business. Preventing such a large amount of food waste is more sustainable and eco-conscious – an important aim for businesses in any sector – and it helps to widen profit margins. The more food that is wasted, the more a food retailer must purchase to ensure that their shelves are stocked for their customers. By reducing food waste through accurate and frequent temperature monitoring, grocery stores have the opportunity to significantly reduce costs without reducing income, therefore driving profits.
Overall, it is clear that IoT sensor technology has proved itself to be a vital and important asset to the grocery industry in terms of both sustainability and driving profit. With real-time communication and alerts, the monitoring of temperature in storage units has never been so efficient.