Did you know up to 40% of the U.S food supply is wasted each year? That not-so-fun fact was shared by my colleague and food technology expert Amanda Wade on the latest episode of Industrial Automation Insider as we were talking about why automation-based technology projects were heating up in the food and beverage industry.
Of course, I had to do a little more research into this profound statistic and what I learned was even more jaw-dropping: wasting 40% of the total U.S. food supply is like “every person in America throwing more than 650 average-sized apples right into the garbage.” I can’t imagine throwing away that many apples. I don’t even know if I’ve eaten that many apples in my lifetime yet. Have you? That’s a lot of apples.
What’s worse is that restaurants, grocery stores and food service providers account for 40% of that wasted food. We have got to figure out how to stop this cycle, especially if it’s perpetuated by food spoilage, contamination or mismanagement throughout the supply chain.
Fortunately, Amanda, and my two other guests – Reuben George and John Wirthlin – had some ideas about what quick serve restaurants (QSRs) and others in the food and beverage industry can do, even though I didn’t technically invite them onto the show to talk about the food waste.
The real reason we sat down to catch up is because all three have been on the front lines recently, working with some of the biggest QSRs, food producers and wholesalers to figure out how to get ingredients for our favorite meals through the supply chain as quickly and safely as possible.
Labor shortages are lingering.
Supply shortages are lingering.
We all need to eat.
We need to know that what we’re consuming is safe.
None of us like pulling up to a drive thru and hearing that we can’t get french fries with our chicken nuggets – or that we can’t get chicken nuggets either. And we certainly don’t want to worry that the items we buy at the store or order at our favorite restaurants are going to make us sick. We need to be able to trust that food is:
going to be available when we want/need it.
handled properly as its produced/picked, stored, shipped, shelved and/or prepared.
being protected from tampering, contamination and spoilage from farm or factory to fork.
So, we sat down for 30-minutes to discuss solutions to the industry’s most pressing problems, along with some key learnings from recent technology projects intended to solve compliance, traceability and quality control challenges.