Japan is using artificial intelligence to combat food waste
Japan is using artificial intelligence to combat food waste

Japanese companies are increasingly using artificial intelligence and other advanced technologies to reduce food waste and the costs of epidemics, in hopes of earning sustainability points in the process.

Government data shows that treating more than 6 million tons of Japanese food waste will cost the world's third largest economy around 2 trillion yen ($ 19 billion) annually.

Since Japan has the highest per capita food waste, the Japanese government has enacted a new law to reduce this cost to half the 2000 level by 2030.

Lawson, a small supermarket chain, is starting to use artificial intelligence to estimate the number of products on the shelves.

Lawson's goal is to reduce inventory by 30% and halve food waste in all stores compared to 2018 by 2030.

Food waste disposal is the highest cost for Lawson franchisees after labor costs.

The beverage manufacturer Suntory Beverage Food Company tests another Fujitsu AI product to see if products like oolong tea and mineral water bottles are damaged in transit.

With the new AI, Suntory Beverages & Foods would like to be able to assess whether the box has also been damaged or whether the contents have been damaged and should be returned.

Suntory Beverage Food aims to reduce product revenue 30% to 50%, reduce food waste costs and develop a common standard system that can be shared between food manufacturers and other carriers.

Japanese shoppers have shown signs of acceptance, especially as the coronavirus pandemic is affecting revenues.

Tatsuya Sekito founded the e-commerce corporation Kuradashi in 2014, which deals with unsold goods at low prices. Before that, he saw how a Japanese trading company produces a lot of waste kitchen machines.

Online businesses are booming today, in part because consumers have become more cost-conscious during the Coronavirus pandemic and the increased demand for inexpensive and unsold foods.

Sekito told Reuters that sales rose 2.5 times last year on an annual basis and that the amount of food waste has doubled since the coronavirus shut down the food supply chain.

Cangqiao owns a network of 800 companies and sold 50,000 items. This number has increased from 80,000 in 2019 to 180,000 in 2021.

Other companies have worked with companies in the food sector to develop a new technology platform to reduce food waste. This is part of the global goal of sustainable development.

NEC uses artificial intelligence to analyze data such as weather, calendar and customer trends to estimate demand and provide rationale for analysis.

NEC has used this technology in some of the major retailers and food manufacturers to cut costs by 15% to 75%.

NEC hopes to share and process data across a common platform between manufacturers, retailers and logistics to reduce supply chain mismatches.

“Reducing food waste is not our ultimate goal, it is solving other business challenges such as reducing costs, labor shortages, simplifying inventory, ordering and logistics,” said Ryuchi Morita, NEC Senior Manager in charge of digital integration.

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