ECR Food Waste & Markdown Working Group Meetings - May 18th & 19th

by Colin Peacock

Food Waste

Invitation to the ECR Food Waste Working Group Sessions on May 19th & 20th

The ECR food waste and markdowns working group invites you to register and join us on all or just some of our forthcoming working group discussions. The themes covered are continuations of previous sessions and are around how food surplus can be prevented, and once that food surplus exists, how it can be managed efficiently, ensuring that the least possible amount escapes the human and animal food chain.

In our previous sessions in 2021, we have discussed prompted expiry date apps, best practices on managing banana waste, dynamic assortment and other features of centralised ordering with Franprix, and in April, the topic of how food waste is managed in online grocery operations. Click each of the links to see brief recap and to apply for a recording.

Looking ahead to May, we have six hourly sessions planned, three per day, and on each day, the first session will start at 12pm British Summer time, then at 1.30pm and finally at 3pm.

Wednesday May 19th:

Session 1: KPI's - where in the business does the budget for food waste and markdown sit?: There is seemingly no consensus amongst large organised retailers where the budget for food waste and markdowns should sit, and what each function, from buyers, to store operations, to supply chain, to loss prevention should be held accountable for in terms of metrics, budgets and key performance indicators. In some organisations, the budget will sit with the commercial and buying organisation, after all, they make the big decisions on assortment, suppliers and forecast volumes. In these organisations, the stores are held to account for the routines, such as rotating products, and markdown compliance. In other organisations, where the stores hold responsibilities for ordering fresh products, and there is a large in-store production business, the stores are held to account for the waste and markdown budget, with the buyer, supply chain and other functions accountable for actions that can support the store achieve their waste and markdown targets.

In this session, which will start with a talk from Elizabeth Harris from Morrisons, the group will discuss this theme and will share the latest thinking and any evidence on changes in the values of food waste and markdowns experienced as their organisation has transitioned from changing the accountability from one function to another. Click to register

Session 2: Machine Learning to Improve Store Ordering: In an earlier meeting this year, the working group heard from Franprix on the benefits of centralising the store ordering process using multiple data inputs and centrally agreed targets on OSA and Waste, and dynamic assortment planning to cut the items that create high food waste. In this session, we will hear from Ramesh Reddy at Fresh Thyme, and their learnings from the introduction of machine learning store ordering systems, and the benefits this has delivered to their sales and waste performances.

In the group discussion that follows, retailers will share their latest learnings on the best practices for ordering, central or local, and if both, what categories are advantaged by local Vs central ordering. Click to register

Session 3: True Cost of Food Waste Model: As one of the participants in the group shared, do organisations really know whether they can actually afford zero food waste? To help inform the question, ECR have commissioned research into the true cost of Food Waste with Professor Lisa Jack of the University of Portsmouth, and building on her research with the group on the true cost of returns from online sales, and based on inputs from case study retailers, she will introduce to the group a new costing model that aims to put a cost to the vast array of activities associated with managing the exit of surplus food.

In this session the group will discuss the model presented by the Professor, and their own experiences at trying to put a cost to the true cost of food waste. Click to register

Thursday May 20th

Session 4: Woolworths Australia Case Study - Towards Zero Food Waste: In a previous working group session we heard from Sonae and their three year journey on waste, and some of the key interventions they introduced and their impact. In this session, Woolworths Australia will share their journey, the key milestones, the lessons along the way and the future choices ahead of them as they seek to deliver the zero food waste target.

The group will then discuss the findings from the presentations and their own challenges at delivering zero food waste targets. Click to register

Session 5: Smart Label Use Case at X5: An acknowledged global truth in food retailing is that the information carried on the cases of, and the individual fresh items to communicate the expiry date and messaging on when the item is "best" are a) small, b) difficult to locate, c) hard to read and d) inevitably sow confusion, especially when there are two dates, one would be the "best before" date [deemed to be when the item tastes, smells, etc the best] and the "use by" date. To this end, retailers have looked to remove information on expiry dates on items such as produce where common sense can be applied. There have also been efforts to remove the "best before" dates.

Taking another approach, and a finalist at the ECR Innovation Challenge in July 2019, is Evigence, a new start up bringing to the market a new smart label that is based on time and temperature, changing colour to indicate to store associates and the shopper the freshness of the product, and the proximity to the time when a price markdown would need to be considered.

In this session, Leonid Tsvetkov (X5 Russia) will share their journey to date using these smart labels, outline the business case to date, and share future next steps. In the discussion that follows, other retailers will share their [if any] experiences with smart labels and overall, discuss their current thinking on date labelling improvement strategies. Click to register

Session 6: Tesco and Olio Success Story: Over the last five years there has been significant innovation in the available strategies for retailers to keep surplus food within the human and animal food chain. These have included the use of dynamic price markdown systems, new apps such as Gander or FlashFood that advertise and accelerate the sales of these discounted products, and then apps such as TooGoodToGo that promote bargain boxes of near to expiry date items to shoppers. And when all these options are exhausted, new software such as FoodCloud has made it easier and safer for retailers to donate surplus food to local charities and food banks. However, and despite all these innovations, many retailers still find themselves with surplus food that they would then need to donate, if possible, and at a cost, to animal feed or energy conversion.

To fill this gap, and to ensure that the surplus food remains in the human food chain, Tesco formed a partnership with Olio, to design and launch an innovative new way to distribute surplus food to the local community. Click here to see a BBC television news story that explains this partnership and the innovative approach they developed.

In this session, Ben Dingley (Tesco) and Saasha Celestial-One (Olio) will share their journey, the key milestones, the current status and results, and the next steps in their journey plan. The group will then discuss the findings and share their approaches to the management and donation of surplus food. Click to register


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