In Jonathan Bloom's new book American Wasteland he reports that the US produces about 591 billion pounds of food each year of which about 50 percent goes to waste somewhere along the food supply chain. This includes unused restaurant food, food in the field and vegetables and fruits in the grocery store as examples. Grocery stores throw away an estimated 30 million pounds of food each day.
Bloom identifies the following areas where much of the waste occurs:
- The field
- Lost in transit
- Supermarket throw away
- Commerical kitchens such as hospitals, schools and restaurants
When I read this information, I thought back to a couple of articles I wrote last year on LBS (location based services), time sensitive alerts and mobile retail applications. Here they are:
I believe there are business models where mobile alerts, time "aware" retail applications, LBS solutions and CRMs can be combined to target groups of consumers within a specific geographical area. This target market can be notified of discounts and special programs intended to reduce the amount of wasted food.
I think of the shelf life of a banana. After a few days on the shelf, the grocery store will remove the banana and throw it out the back door into the trash bin. What if consumers were notified that between 3:30 p.m. and 3:45 p.m. the banana would be discounted by 50 percent? Perhaps the restaurant a few blocks away would love that banana to use in fruit smoothies. Their smartphone alerts them to a 15 minute discount at the local grocery store and they race down and grab the discounted banana. Everyone wins!
I am convinced that there are hundreds of unique applications for solutions like this in retail. Companies like Smartsoft Mobile Solutions spend much of their time designing and developing mobile retailing applications.