One recent undertaking came from across the Atlantic at Insignia Technologies, an intelligent packaging company in Scotland. The company announced the launch of the Stock Rotation smart label, which is designed to cut down on food waste and improve food safety at every stage of the food supply chain.
Once the smart label is stuck to a box or pallet of fresh produce, it starts to change color over a pre-calibrated period of time. This means that at any point in the supply chain you can actually see how fresh the fruit, vegetables, meat or dairy goods are inside the box.
As the label changes color over time, it goes from yellow to purple. It is both time and temperature sensitive, which means it has the potential to highlight any problems of temperature abuse that produce may have experienced. The idea behind this visual solution is to help with issues such as stock rotation and poor practices in the transportation of fresh food, in both developed and developing markets.
“Between 30 percent and 50 percent of food produced globally never reaches the consumer,” CEO David Kilshaw says. “To keep up with the world’s ever increasing demand for food, the food sector must change the way it works now and reduce waste at every stage in the supply chain from farm to supermarket to consumer. The Stock Rotation label is the latest of the groundbreaking technologies we have developed, and will play a critical role in increasing industry efficiency and improving freshness with a low-cost and easy-to-use product.”
A Little Cheesy
Another initiative coming from across the pond is happening in Wales, which has recently launched a plan to reduce supply chain food waste. Natural Resources Minister Carl Sargeant recently launched the Food Manufacture, Service and Retail Sector Plan, which is aimed at preventing waste, reducing its production and increasing recycling across supply chains.
“This sector plan is broad, covering food and associated packaging waste and looking at the entire food supply chain after it has left the farm, from manufacturer to consumer,” Sargeant said. “It focuses on the role that food manufacturers, wholesale suppliers, retailers and the service sector can play in reducing and recycling waste – and save money at the same time. It’s vital that Welsh businesses can be competitive and resilient in world markets. Ensuring a secure supply of materials and making the most efficient use of materials is key to this, as well as the potential to make savings and become more efficient.”
The plan points to a case study where support from WRAP Cymru, which is funded by the Welsh Government, enabled a Welsh cheese manufacturer to make savings of more than $159,000 over three years. The Carmarthenshire Cheese Company and WRAP Cymru worked together with a cheese industry specialist that recommended investment in a new cheese-cutting machine and several packaging operations measures, as well as identified savings surrounding virgin packaging materials.
We can all recognize the importance of reducing food waste and enhancing food safety, especially in a world where there are more people and fewer resources. These examples from Scotland and Wales are just a snapshot of the ways that the food and beverage supply chain can be improved before the product ever reaches the consumer.