Food waste is something we've come to accept as the status quo for grocery retailers. No one wants to eat expired food, so it gets tossed. But times are changing.
Research has spilled the beans over the extent of food waste, and the results aren't pretty. In the US, it's estimated that supermarkets toss out 43 billion pounds of food every year with up to 50% being still edible.
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But who's to blame? Retailers are caught in a tough spot over food waste. Consumers expect the shelves of their local supermarket to be fully stocked with enough fresh products for everyone and then some. If they can't find what they want they'll just shop somewhere else, putting a retailer's very existence in jeopardy.
Reducing food waste is a complex issue with many more moving parts than just the vegetable aisle and the shoppers browsing it. But it's undeniable that retailers have a huge part to play. So how can retailers strike a balance between being less wasteful while staying profitable?
Expiration Date Tracking technology automates the manual checking of expiration dates and gives store teams complete visibility into what's about to expire. It's a meaningful tool in a retailer's arsenal for slashing food waste. Here are 4 reasons why every grocery retailer needs it in their stores.
1) Because decreasing food waste is the right thing to do - for the environment, and for the collective consumer conscience.
If carbon dioxide emissions from food waste was its own country, it would be the #3 worst emitter globally after China and the US . In industrialized countries roughly 40% of food waste happens at the retail and consumer levels. Better management of expiring products can help retailers do their part to reduce the amount of food waste they contribute to.
Couple this with the fact that 795 million or 1 out of every 9 of us globally go hungry every day, and we have a sobering wake up call. Food waste must be reduced - for the planet and for the malnourished people living on it.
2) Because it improves customer experience.
Buying groceries is about so much more than mere sustenance. It's about getting inspired. Finding an expired product isn't very inspirational. And while some consumers are completely fine with eating food that's past its expiry date like this guy, most retailers aren't willing to take the chance that consumers will be fine after. Safety always comes first, and when customer stories spread like wildfire, having expired products hanging around is a risk retailers can't afford to take.
And when maxed out store teams, manual date checking and tiny expiration dates (why are they always in the last place you look?) are all thrown in together, you have a recipe for lots of human error.
3) Because it improves the employee experience.
Most supermarket employees use some combination of visual checking and Excel spreadsheets to remove expired products from shelves and keep tabs on what's about to expire. This is no one's favourite job. It's time-consuming, it's boring and employees would probably rather be doing anything else - like actually spending time with customers. Instead of spending hours per day checking expiration dates and moving products around in their designated aisle, employees could be answering customer questions and helping them find what they need. That's the power of in-store technology - it refocuses employees on what makes the in-store experience better for customers and employees.
Giving employees the tools to make their days easier signals your credibility as an employer and boosts engagement. 93% of millennials surveyed cited up-to-date technology as one of the most important factors for choosing a workplace.
4) Because it improves margins.
Throwing away products costs $1.2 billion every year. Saving some of these products and discounting them just before they expire recuperates margins that would otherwise be lost. And who doesn't love a good deal? 48% of US consumers would like to see retailers have more discounts on products nearing their expiry dates. Expiration tracking technology helps store teams get to products before they expire and have to be tossed, without having to spend hours of their day doing it.
Manual processes are preventing grocery retailers from doing their part to tackle food waste. Take it from this Operations Director at a leading European grocery retailer:
"As a business, we need to quickly and accurately identify stock that is nearing its expiration date so we can discount it. This will enable us to maximize profit and minimize waste. The current process is overly complicated and inefficient for store colleagues. There is minimal visibility of progress and compliance for our management team".
Technology to the rescue!
YOOBIC's expiration date tracking technology takes the hassle and headaches out of managing expiring products. Instead of spending hours manually checking product labels every day, store teams only check on the products that really matter - the ones about to expire. Customer and employee experience improves, risk goes down and margins go up. We'd love to show you how!