04 April 2023
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As food waste continues to loom as a global concern, technology has stepped up to offer many innovative solutions. Food waste management can be approached reactively by recycling waste after its creation or proactively either by preventing wastage before it occurs or redistributing surplus food before it goes to waste. This report focuses on proactive approaches.
While the food industry has been using food tech for a while, applying technology for proactive food waste management is a recent phenomenon. Incorporating emerging technologies like AI, machine learning, food sensors, etc. can create innovative solutions that optimize operations, enable real-time tracking of food items, build transparency, and trust with customers, resulting in a significant reduction of food waste.
Food waste management tech leans heavily into the booming food waste management industry. The industry is expected to generate USD 40 billion in 2021 and grow at a CAGR of around 6% over 2021-32 due to population growth and stricter food waste management directives.
Food industry operators actively invest in food waste prevention tech to benefit from revenue and cost savings, conserve resources, and meet corporate sustainability goals. They prioritize being seen as ethical, which helps their reputation and ability to attract customers and investors. Further, regulations and initiatives have fuelled demand for food waste management tech. Moreover, tax incentives are focused on encouraging activities that redistribute food surplus.
The utilization of waste prevention technology offers a multitude of benefits, especially for downstream food operators. This technology has two scenarios, the first one is without waste prevention tech which will help companies understand the costs of food waste, including preparation, disposal, and environmental spending. The second scenario with food waste prevention technology will help assess whether the technology assists a business in achieving economic benefits. Ultimately, using this technology can replace the costs associated with food waste processing, disposal, and carbon taxes with economic benefits. On the other hand, the redistribution platforms also play an essential role by enabling the sale of excess food at discounted rates, thereby boosting profit margins and preventing wastage.
The food waste management space is led by pure-play disruptors developing food waste prevention and redistribution solutions for different stages of the food supply chain. Pure-play disruptors like Winnow, Leanpath, Afresh, Relex, and Karma lead the food waste management tech industry, while incumbent food industry players like Walmart and Meijer provide in-house solutions. Further, home-based waste prevention solutions like Kitche and Olio offer freemium models to manage food waste. Additionally, food industry players are partnering with disruptors in the food waste prevention and redistribution sector to access their technologies and gain economic and environmental benefits.