The grocery industry has faced its fair share of challenges over the past few decades. Digitization has caused many shoppers to adjust their purchasing habits in favor of e-commerce solutions, technology has raised the stakes on in-store personalization, and a renewed focus on sustainability has raised standards for grocers across the country.
As members of the grocery retail community, we’re keyed into these problems. We’ve witnessed issues like food waste firsthand in our store walks, finding expired products on the shelf that not only could have turned a profit for the grocer, but will now contribute to the overarching problem of wastefulness.
When we dug into the research and realized just how big of a problem food waste was, we decided to do something about it.
That’s why we created Stop Waste Together.
What is Stop Waste Together?
Stop Waste Together is a non-profit initiative sponsored by Pinpoint Software. It was created in 2016 with the express mission of cutting down food waste in grocery stores through the use of Date Check Pro’s expiration date management software.
How Stop Waste Together works
Using Date Check Pro, grocers can proactively track inventory expiration dates and work together with their shoppers to minimize food waste and maximize savings for everyone. When grocers implement Stop Waste Together initiatives in their stores, they receive template marketing materials such as high-grade, tamper-proof coupons, aisle signage, and POS signage along with online promotion so that they can maximize their waste prevention efforts, promote those efforts to their customers, and track their green impact per store.
Essentially, it works like this: grocers will receive a notification in Date Check Pro when an item in their inventory is close to expiring, say a month in advance of the expiration date. This gives the retailer enough time to mark down the product with a Stop Waste Together coupon, which is not only eye-catching and tamper-proof, but also showcases the store’s sustainability efforts to customers. Instead of using a bright orange sticker that comes with its own negative connotation, Stop Waste Together’s coupons encourage customers to “go green” by purchasing a close dated product at a discount. When a customer purchases a product with a Stop Waste Together coupon, they not only take a product off the shelf that may have ended up in a landfill, but they also develop a sense of achievement and an authentic connection with a store that they now see as sustainable and environmentally-friendly.
Why is food waste prevention important?
The issue of food waste is something that many grocers are familiar with, if not perpetually perplexed by. Yes, grocers are in the business of selling food, but they also need to realize that many traditional business practices exacerbate food waste. It is a grocer’s responsibility to evaluate their current practices and protocols and pivot in order to affect change throughout the industry.
Just how big of a problem is food waste? A recent study by the Natural Resources Defense Council estimated that $165 billion worth of food is wasted every year in the U.S. Even more staggering: the same study revealed that 40% of the food produced in the United States goes uneaten.
These numbers are astronomical when you consider the scale of America’s population and production. The amount of food that we are producing, purchasing, and subsequently throwing in the trash is off the charts. The nonchalant wastefulness of both shoppers and grocers is now not only affecting a bottom line – it’s affecting the planet.
Put frankly, the Washington Post published an article titled, “The staggering environmental footprint of all the food that we just throw in the trash”, noting that the environmental costs of America’s wasted food added up to, “30 million acres of cropland (about the land area of Pennsylvania), 4.2 trillion gallons of water and nearly 2 billion pounds of fertilizer”, as well as a contribution to the warming of the planet, “because agriculture is a key source of the fast-warming gases methane and nitrous oxide.”
Supermarkets have a major stake in this game – if food waste becomes unsustainable, it’s safe to say that modes of production would need to change, affecting the grocer’s bottom line. However, many companies have still not yet made the switch to environmentally-friendly practices. The Center for Biological Diversity found that only 4 of the 10 largest grocery chains in the United States have specific food waste reduction commitments. That’s a statistic that needs to change – drastically.
This issue isn’t just present in the United States either. Around the world, food waste is becoming a top of mind issue, and, as global populations continue to increase, it’s necessary that we see a shift in the way retailers, and consumers, treat food. Our current habits are simply unsustainable.
All of that is to say that consumers are becoming more aware of these issues and are placing more weight on environmentalism in their purchasing decisions. Grocers should take notice.
Shoppers today are specifically seeking out brands that are focused on sustainability. According to a new report from Unilever, 33% of consumers are actively choosing to buy from brands that they believe are doing social or environmental good.
“This research confirms that sustainability isn’t a nice-to-have for businesses. In fact, it has become an imperative,” Keith Weed, Unilever’s Chief Marketing and Communications Officer said. “[Brands] must act quickly to prove their social and environmental credentials and show consumers they can be trusted with the future of the planet and communities, as well as their own bottom lines.”
How to prevent food waste in your store
The first step toward preventing food waste as a grocer is to incorporate Stop Waste Together initiatives in your stores. Becoming a Stop Waste Together partner is easy. Simply visit our website and fill out the form at the bottom of our homepage for more information on how your store can help reduce food waste for years to come.