Smart supermarkets to reduce SA food waste

By focusing on sustainability throughout the entire value chain, especially in the retail link, food waste is minimised, productivity increased and the impact on climate change reduced, moving towards better food security for all. 

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Food wastage is a global problem. Roughly a third of all the food produced for human consumption around the world is lost or wasted, according to estimates from the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO). If just a fourth of this food could be saved, the report states, it could feed 870 million people.

The UN has recognised this as a serious concern and has developed 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), including Zero Hunger, which aims to end world hunger by 2030 and Responsible Consumption and Production, which commits to halving per capita global food waste and reducing food loss by 2030. The global community has agreed to adopt these goals to ‘end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all’.

In developing countries such as South Africa, the FAO estimates that the direct economic consequence of food loss and waste is roughly USD310-billion. In addition, resources including water, land, energy, labour and capital are squandered, and unnecessary greenhouse gas emissions are produced, contributing to global warming and climate change.

Food value chain

Food loss is the result of inefficient food systems, with waste occurring along the entire food supply chain, from farm to fork. By focusing on sustainability from agriculture to transport, storage, production and point of sale, you lower food loss and waste, increase productivity, preserve the ecosystem, reduce the impact on climate change and move towards better food security for all – helping achieve the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.

So what can be done?

Global companies such as Danfoss invest a lot of time and money engineering technologies focused on climate and energy-efficient solutions. They are committed to the SDGs for Responsible Consumption and Production, by setting better cold chains as a target. As such, the company has developed and implemented cloud-based solutions around the world, that seamlessly monitor the food temperature at every stage of the cold chain, with the objective of reducing food waste which causes greenhouse gas emissions.

Making supermarkets smarter

“With our long history in the HVAC industry and through a 30-year collaboration with a community of global food retailers, we have developed an integrated retail solution called the Smart Store, with the aim of cutting the food loss and wastage that occurs at the retail level,” says Roy Naidoo, refrigeration and air conditioning are sales manager of Danfoss Sub-Saharan Africa. “We believe that the Smart Store solution is the supermarket of tomorrow, integrating control of refrigeration, HVAC, lighting and other applications, to enhance food safety and maximise energy efficiency from case to cloud.”

The Smart Store uses the Internet of Things (IoT) to link every system in a store, monitoring the performance of equipment 24/7 and reveals where there are opportunities to improve efficiency. This digital solution can minimise food wastage by ensuring perfect conditions for food in temperature controlled environments. Through Big Data, stores are also equipped with self-learning components and solutions that intelligently predict failure and trigger maintenance – helping to achieve close to zero downtime.

This opens up new possibilities for food retailers to improve the consumer experience, reduce food waste and ensure optimum performance of their stores. Not only would this benefit the environment but it could also contribute to cost saving, impacting each store’s bottom line.

Energy producer

The role of the supermarket is changing, and the next-generation food retailers could be producing electricity. Danfoss is part of a joint venture with scientists, innovators and retailers that seek to transform supermarkets into energy producers. New technology will give supermarkets the ability to capture excess heat that they create, and then store it, reuse it in their own systems and, by connecting to the local district heating grid, redistribute it to the surrounding community. Consumers may rely on the supermarkets of the future to provide them with fresh food and electricity.

“We believe that the opportunities ahead are enormous. By integrating cutting-edge technology, supermarkets are going to transform and become the centre of their communities. There are currently more than 9 000 Danfoss Smart Stores worldwide, and we believe that these stores will provide both the food and energy needed for sustainable future growth, while also helping to reduce food waste in South African and around the world,” says Naidoo. 




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