Around ten million tonnes of eatable food are wasted in France each year in all sectors (households, restaurants and distribution)1. Auchan has made the fight against food waste one of its priority endeavours to reverse this trend. For example, the firm gives meals to charities (nineteen million in 2021) and offers low-cost baskets of unsold goods via the application Too Good To Go (388,000 baskets sold in 2021). To intensify this campaign, it is now opting for a digitalised approach to food waste management driven by artificial intelligence by forging a win-win partnership with Smartway. By the end of June 2022, Auchan will have applied the smart solutions developed by the Nantes-based start-up in its 119 hypermarkets and 230 supermarkets to help store teams detect soon-to-expire products and optimise preservation of them. This is the first development of its kind in France on this scale.
Working more efficiently throughout the chain via artificial intelligence
Food stores’ in-house operations today involve detecting soon-to-expire products on shelves, applying the right discount rates and printing out discount labels. But these daily operations, from one end of the chain to the other, take time and can sometimes cause mistakes. So Auchan is digitalising management of unsold food products and banking on artificial intelligence to simplify tasks on the ground to become faster and more efficient in these operations. The company is equipping its teams with an innovative solution: the Food Waste Management System (FWMS), developed by Smartway. This technological system is based on a unique form of artificial intelligence, used at each stage of food waste management. It results in higher rates of preservation of soon-to-expire products – either through sales of food products to eat quickly or through donations to charities.
Effective roll-out to detect approaching use-by dates
Auchan is clearly stepping up its fight against food waste by turning to Smartway. The start-up’s solution is being applied on a huge scale. Not only does the roll-out cover all Auchan hypermarkets and supermarkets in France, but it also includes three smart tools Smartway has designed: Smartdetection for picking out approaching use-by dates (in 30% of stores to begin with), Smartdecision for choosing the right preservative path for a soon-to-expire product, and Smartdiscount for applying the right discounts. It is the first time a smart solution to manage food waste has been developed on such a scale in France. The roll-out also stands out for its speed. It is scheduled for all stores by the end of June 2022.
All players in the chain will benefit from the solution’s artificial intelligence. Stores will reduce their losses from food waste by around 30%. Employees will enjoy greater reliability and speed – the time their tasks currently take will be cut fourfold as they are guided in handling soon-to-expire products. Customers will enjoy a wider range of discounted products, which will of course boost their purchasing power. Lastly, charities will have a sharper oversight of donations they are due to receive.
1 ADEME, France’s public agency for ecological transition
‘We’ve opted for greater efficiency and speed to step up the fight against food waste. Our aim is to preserve a higher volume of food products in a better way. With Smartway, we’re applying a digital solution that features a unique form of artificial intelligence and we’re doing so on a large scale. It simplifies tasks on the ground, it reduces time spent picking out soon-to-expire products, and it optimises preservation of them. Our teams will be able to save 12,000 extra tonnes of food products – that amounts to twenty-five million meals and 32,000 tonnes of CO₂. These products will be sold at cut prices, boosting our customers’ purchasing power. And as donations, they’ll strengthen our support for charities.’
Philippe Brochard, Managing Director, Auchan Retail France and Luxembourg
‘Smartway has been supporting distributors in the fight against food waste for ten years. Until recently, we were present in France in 400 stores. By rolling out our solutions in 349 Auchan hypermarkets and supermarkets in France, we’re making huge progress to fulfil our purpose: to build a waste-free future together. The decision made by Auchan, the first firm to opt for a comprehensive, large-scale approach in France, honours and delights us.’
Christophe Menez, COO and Co-founder, Smartway
About Auchan in France
Auchan is a multi-form phygital retailer that brings together all forms of physical food retail (hypermarkets, small local supermarkets and grocery stores) and digital food retail (drive-in facilities, home delivery and click-and-collect solutions) to offer its clients a pleasant shopping experience and a unique, fair, responsible range. The company makes local residents’ lives easier by putting them at the heart of all their decisions: affordable prices, choice and diversity in ranges, high-quality service. Auchan is a responsible economic player that supports agriculture and the food-processing industry by working closely with local regions through the 64,000 employees in its 622 retail outlets. In 2020, the company recorded over 336 million visits to its stores or retail websites.
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Food stores throw away as much as they earn! We can no longer tolerate such waste as more and more consumers are needy. But food stores can now tackle this issue while improving their profitability. Smartway is has been a responsible firm since 2012 and was behind ‘zero waste’ shelves. The firm created the first-ever food waste management system to optimise the path of food products at the end of their lifespan. Smartway solutions use a unique form of artificial intelligence to help in-store teams detect soon-to-expire products and decide on the best way to preserve them: labelling them with a suitable discount or donating them to charities in a simplified way.
‘Let’s build a waste-free future together’