Data Analytics & AI

How to cut food waste with data analytics

At TM Forum Live! (in Nice in May), Rahul Tomar, CTO & Co-Founder, Tsenso, will deliver a presentation entitled Analytics and your dinner plate – how one start-up is conquering an €18 billion problemHe provides an introduction here. 

Every year, an estimated 88 million tonnes of food is wasted across EU countries. Meanwhile, 1 in 9 people worldwide struggle to find enough food to lead a healthy life. Sadly, the problem doesn’t stop there. Globally, if food waste were a country it would be the third largest emitter of greenhouse gases after China and the US. It’s absurd.

The good news? Progress is being made. France recently passed a law banning supermarkets from throwing away unwanted food, and Italy now requires shops to donate all unsold produce to the needyBut these laws are limited, and there are no EU-wide requirements for countries to take action. Europe needs to lead the way in tackling food waste and inspire the world to achieve sustainable development goals.

With the help of the University of Wageningen we understand that temperature plays the major role for defining the expiry date of any food. Research on reducing food losses with intelligent food logistics was published in 2014. It made the clear case that reducing losses through better quality supervision and prediction models, using more advanced technology, is not only possible but should be mandatory.

With the current rate of population growth and developing countries needing a larger share of limited resources, the world can neither afford nor sustain food loss caused by inefficient cold chains.

One of the simplest methods to get the best expiry date is monitoring the temperature of food right through from the manufacturing unit to the retail counter

The Fresh Index

Tsenso has introduced the Fresh Index, a new “expiry” date for food in place of the static best before date. It is not printed but can be read out via an app and displayed digitally, e.g. on digital price tags and on online grocery stores. This keeps it dynamic: as long as the product is temperature-monitored, the index is updated automatically. The Fresh Index indicates how fresh the product is. The higher the number, the fresher the food is, and the longer its shelf life. The freshness data of the product is stored in the Tsenso cloud and can be retrieved at any time. This means that on arrival, the condition of the goods can be checked immediately. For this application, we developed an app.

Source: Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations

The graph above shows clearly that the percentage of food wastage from production to retailing is on the high side — this is something that we need to tackle right now. If just a quarter of the food currently lost or wasted globally could be saved, it would be enough to feed 870 million hungry people in the world. In developing countries food waste and losses occur mainly during the early stages of the food value chain and can be traced back to financial, managerial and technical constraints in harvesting techniques as well as storage and cooling facilities. In medium- and high-income countries, food is wasted and lost mainly at later stages in the supply chain.

It’s a really big target to achieve but by taking baby steps we can all make a big difference and can save millions of hungry people’s lives.

I’ll be talking more about this topic during my session at TM Forum Live! I look forward to meeting many of you. Be there if you want to be the part of global change.


About The Author

CTO & Co-Founder, Tsenso GmbH

Rahul Tomar is an entrepreneur with extensive experience in software development and management. He works with Tsenso GmbH to develop a dynamic quality monitoring system for the food cool chain. By monitoring the temperature from industry to retail counter with their own developed temperature sensor, tsenso derives a standardised food quality indicator: the Fresh Index. He is also a Co-Founder of Smart Cities Lab. Earlier he worked for 6 years with ITC Engineering GmbH & Co KG, Stuttgart in developing software application for Tunnel construction industry to manage and publish the sensor data. Before this he also had extensive experience of 10 years from India. He studied in EPFL, Switzerland his Masters in Tunnel Engineering and Bachelors in Mechanical from BITS Pilani, India. He is a certified PMP, ScrumMaster and ITIL Software Project Management.

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