According to the Journal Of Consumer Affairs the retail stores wasted a total of 43 billion pounds in 2008, equivalent to 10 percent of the total food supply at the retail level. There are several reasons why grocery stores tend to waste a lot of food. Industry executives and managers viewvappropriate waste as a sign that a store is meeting quality control and full-shelf standards, meaning that blemished items are removed and shelves are fully stocked (Source: Harvard Business Review N9-012-022).
We have identified several key reasons why food at grocery stores is thrown away well before their expiration date.
1. In an effort to ensure freshness to consumers, retail stores donate or throw food away when they are past their sell by date(sometimes well before the sell by date) which is usually well before their use by date. Sometimes the food pantries cannot accept large quantities of donations due to lack of the storage space so a lot more food gets thrown away in the compost bin
2. Most of the times, grocery stores throw away perfectly good supplies due to damaged packaging, promotional products that don't get sold on time or any new products introduced by the grocery store that don't sell. A lot of fresh produce also get's thrown away because it looks "ugly"
3. A lot of prepared food at the grocery stores gets thrown away due to strict food temperature regulation laws. After few hours if the food doesn't get consumed it is either thrown away or given to the food pantry who freeze the food and store it
4. Most of the grocery stores price the goods the same regardless of their sell by date . This motivates the consumers to purchase food that has longer sell by date which in turn leads to a lot more food waste. Thanks @Tojin Eapen for pointing us to this insight.
Chrono Foods is a viable business solution to the losses faced by grocery stores on a regular basis due to food waste. Chrono Foods proposes to buy about to expire food (according to sell by date) from grocery stores and other sources at a cheaper price and sell them to consumers in an environment that they can trust. We have reimagined grocery stores as community spaces where people can cook together, learn to make new recipes from ugly foods and about to expire foods. This would create awareness about importance of food waste in the communities. This will also allow people to buy groceries they need to consume in the next few days at a much cheaper price than regular grocery stores because Chrono Food provides dynamic pricing of groceries according to their sell by dates.The grocery store has four color coded shelves. Each color represents how close the groceries on that shelf are to their sell by dates. Each color has a fixed discount on all the items on that shelf.
The idea originated from a meetup by OpenIDEO Boston