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UK grocers 'can prevent £144m in food waste by using AI'

The UK’s top eight grocers can prevent £144 million in food waste each year if they use artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) in their supply chains, according to one technology company’s predictions.

Scientists at Blue Yonder, which provides solutions in AI and ML and was acquired by supply chain software company JDA in 2018, estimate that using the techniques they specialise in can significantly drive down industry food wastage in several key ways.

They said by using the technology to improve demand forecasting, set the right price based on expiry dates, or sense transportation disruption, the top eight grocers – Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Asda, Morrisons, Aldi, the Co-Operative, Waitrose and Lidl – can help the environment and their avoid lost sales.

Morrisons has been using Blue Yonder’s demand forecast and replenishment solution for several years now, and says it can make 430 million calculations and 13 million automatic decisions every single day thanks to the AI enablement. The grocer has reduced its stockholding in store by two to three days, and reduced wastage and markdowns as a result.

Michael Feindt, founder and chief scientist at Blue Yonder, noted: “Sustainability is no longer just a buzzword, it could really make-or-break grocery retailers over the coming years.

“Retailers know they must take serious action; using AI and ML across their supply chains provides a tangible way for them to cut food waste. Enabling grocery retailers to make more intelligent, data-driven, decisions, can put them on the road to significant environmental and financial savings.”

According to a report released at the end of last year by Capgemini, 28% of retailers around the globe were deploying artificial intelligence (AI) in some form, which represented a significant rise year on year.

In 2017, 17% of the 400 retailers surveyed said they had deployed it, which was up from 4% one year before when the industry was just beginning its AI odyssey.

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