Business

Food waste town to trial ‘selfie fridge’

Food waste town to trial ‘selfie fridge’
Sainsbury’s is to test a new appliance aimed at preventing shoppers from buying food that they don’t need as part of its ‘Waste less, Save more’ initiative.

According to research carried out by the supermarket, 70 per cent of Britons have tried to adopt the habit of checking their fridge before embarking on a food shop. However, over 40 per cent admit that by the time they get to the shop they have forgotten what they need.

The study found that a quarter of households waste over £235 worth of food every year by buying products that they already have in their fridge, a practice that it estimates adds up to around £1.5 billion a year in UK households.

In an attempt to combat this issue, home appliance manufacturer Bosch has developed a fridge that uses embedded cameras to send images of its shelves and door to its owner’s smartphone while they shop. The fridge also enables the user to control the temperature of the fridge and freezer through their phone.

The fridge is now to be tested in Sainsbury’s pilot town of Swadlincote, South Derbyshire, where a range of initiatives and technologies are being trailled across 2016 to ascertain which should be included in a ‘blueprint’ to be implemented in other towns across the UK, as part of a £10-million investment over the next five years.

The retailer is investing £1 million in making Swadlincote the official test-bed of ideas and aims to cut food waste generated in the town by 50 per cent over the course of the year.

Food waste town to trial ‘selfie fridge’
Fruit and veg most overbought items

Research carried out by Sainsbury’s concluded that fruit and vegetables are the most overbought items, with 38 per cent and 35 per cent of shoppers regularly buying more of each than they need. Milk, cheese and eggs are the other unneeded products most commonly purchased.       

Interestingly, the supermarket suggests that while women tend to overbuy fruit and eggs, it’s milk and condiments for men.

To help shoppers, the chain has produced an infographic that includes tips on how to reduce overbuying and where to store different products in the fridge to make sure they get used properly. These tips include:

  • Appoint a fridge boss;
  • Organise items by sell by date, put products due to go off sooner at the front;
  • Take a snap of the interior of your fridge on your phone to consult when you’re shopping;
  • Keep a note pad and pen on the fridge and note down items as they run out;
  • If you make a hot drink in the morning, write a post-it note on the kettle that reminds you to check the fridge;
  • Set a recurring alarm on your phone to remind you to check the fridge and make a list to help you remember the required items; and
  • Store essential items such as milk in regular spots in the fridge so it’s easy to recognise when they are finished.

Findings from the Sainsbury’s research also concluded that organising the fridge can also help shoppers to remember what they have at home. While 40 per cent of people separate their meat and vegetables to help them avoid overbuying, it found that only nine per cent arrange items by their ‘use-by date’ to ensure that foods going off soon are at the front. 

‘Innovative solutions’

Paul Crewe, Head of Sustainability at Sainsbury’s said: “Our customers tell us that despite best intentions, they often find it difficult to remember what is in their fridge, which can lead to them over-buying.

“With 4.2 million tonnes of food wasted each year in the UK we’re on a mission to help households plan their shopping better and reduce the amount of food they throw away. With our focus on finding innovative solutions we have teamed up with Bosch to trial their unique camera fridge which will give shoppers an instant view of the contents of their fridge whilst shopping - triggering a reminder to prevent buying more than they need.” 

Read more about the Swadlincote project and the ‘Waste less, Save more’ initiative.