France and the United Kingdom have been leaders in the fight against food waste: French retailer Intermarché’s “Inglorious Fruits and Vegetables” campaign paved the way for “ugly” produce around the globe, including UK grocery giant Asda’s successful “Wonky Veg” campaign, for example. The latest initiatives on our radar are from Nantes, France-based startup Zéro-Gâchis (which means Zero Waste in French) and UK grocer Sainsbury’s.
Last year, France’s parliament voted to forbid major supermarkets from destroying unsold food, encouraging donations to charities or to farms for animal feed. In addition to bolstering donations, the legislation also renewed retailers’ motivation to monetise stock nearing its sell-by date. Zéro-Gâchis created an app, printing solutions and statistical analysis tools to help them do so and facilitate discounts for consumers.
“When [the retailers] spot a product approaching its sell-by date, they just have to take it off the shelf, pass the product through the printing solution and automatically a new sticker with the discount and new gencode prints. The operator can take the sticker and stick it on the product,” Zéro-Gâchis co-founder and CEO Paul-Adrien Menez explained to FoodNavigator.
The barcode reader automatically prints a new sticker with the initial price and auto-calculated reduced price. In addition to products nearing their sell-by date, the services can also be used for items with dented or damaged packaging. According to Menez, generating new gencodes improves traceability for the retailer and allows them to use the data to improve their overall performance.
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“The app and the website are totally free for consumers. It’s the supermarkets that pay us to provide our services,” Menez added. He estimates that his company enables French consumers save around €600,000 each month.
Over 100 supermarkets around France have signed up, including some of the country’s biggest names such as Carrefour, Auchan, E. Lecerc, Système-U, Leader-Price and Intermarché. Zéro-Gâchis’ team of three is currently in talks with supermarkets in Belgium and plans to expand the service to Spain next month.
Meanwhile, with support from waste reduction-focused organizations WRAP and Hubbub, Sainsbury’s is working with the small town of Swadlincote to test innovative waste-reduction ideas. The latest experiment will be fridges equipped with cameras, thanks to new appliances from Bosch.
The retailer found that 70 percent of Britons claim to have tried to adopt the habit of checking the fridge before shopping for groceries, but over 40 percent admitted they end up forgetting what they need by the time they get to the shop. Bosch’s new fridge hopes to help mitigate this problem by allowing shoppers to check what’s in their fridge – any time, any place. The fridge’s two static cameras snap photos of the shelves and door and the pictures are uploaded to the consumer’s smartphone using the Home Connect app.
“Our customers tell us that despite best intentions, they often find it difficult to remember what is in their fridge which can lead to them over-buying. With 4.2million tonnes of food wasted each year in the UK we’re on a mission to help households plan their shopping better and reduce the amount of food they throw away,” Sainsbury’s’ Head of Sustainability Paul Crewe said.
“With our focus on finding innovative solutions we have teamed up with Bosch to trial their unique camera fridge which will give shoppers an instant view of the contents of their fridge whilst shopping – triggering a reminder to prevent buying more than they need.”
Bosch launched the fridge in April at a retail value of £899. Several homes in Swadlincote are being equipped with the fridges for a six-month trial to see if the fridges help reduce the households’ food waste. After the trial, the families will get to keep the fridges.
Sainsbury’s and Bosch are optimistic that the technology will prove a useful tool. Charlotte Moran, Group Marketing Manager for Bosch said: “The Bosch fridge is very versatile when it comes to assisting with our hectic daily lives, and with the latest camera technology it can help save on overbuying – which is why we’ve partnered with Sainsbury’s on its Waste less, Save more initiative.
“Not only does the fridge take pictures which link up with our Home Connect app, you can also control the temperature of the fridge and freezer remotely. Our VitaFresh technology will also enable you to keep food up to three times longer. Little things like stacking your fridge properly can be a huge benefit!”