Retailer’s Weather Monitor Will Reduce Food Waste & Carbon Footprint

Sainsbury’s hopes to reduce the amount of un-bought food by 15 per cent during periods of unexpected cold or heat.

A new supply chain technology implemented by British supermarket retailer Sainsbury’s may reduce the impact the the UK’s changeable weather has on the amount of food it wastes. The technology will react real time to changing weather and then tell the stores to present foods that suit the climate (comfort fodder for the cold and lighter snacks for when it’s warmer.

We’re not too sure how this impacts suppliers and the waste they might have to create when a very powerful retailer cancels a wholesale order as soon as clouds begin to appear in the sky, but Sainsbury’s (JSAIY) seems very positive about it. A press release reads:

Tim Goalen, Sainsbury’s supply chain director, said: “This new system allows us to react to any changes in buying pattern on the same day rather than overnight, meaning we can make far better decisions on where to send stock before it leaves our depots.

“Several times a year, shelves might be full of barbecue food for the weekend, only for unexpected rain to cause everyone to clamour for warm, hearty food instead. This new way of working will greatly reduce the risk of this.

“It’s not just the weather either. We will now know exactly what is selling well at any given moment so we can react more quickly than any of our competitors, and provide our customers with what they want on any given day.”

The ‘real time supply chain technology’ will reduce the amount of un-bought food by 15 per cent during periods of unexpected weather (of which there were six in 2009), resulting in an estimated annual CO2 reduction of over 1400 tonnes. Apparently, unsold food is sent by the retailer to energy plants that use anaerobic digestion to create power.

J Sainsbury