AI at the Checkout: Transforming Supermarkets with Smart Technology


  •  AI technologies in supermarkets reduce food waste by up to 30%, optimizing stock levels and boosting profits.
  • BlakBear’s gas-sensing tech revolutionizes food freshness monitoring, potentially replacing traditional use-by dates.
  •  Collaboration between retailers and suppliers, powered by AI, maximizes efficiency and minimizes waste across the food supply chain.

In the pursuit of reducing food waste and optimizing stock levels, supermarkets are increasingly turning to artificial intelligence (AI) technologies. These advanced systems are not only enhancing the decision-making process for fresh produce managers but are also introducing innovative methods to ensure food freshness, thereby potentially transforming the food retail sector.

Revolutionizing fresh produce management

A prime example of AI’s impact in supermarkets comes from rural Germany, where a local shop, struggling with overstocking issues due to inexperienced staff, implemented Freshflow’s machine learning system. This technology predicts customer buying patterns and suggests optimal stock levels, leading to a nearly 30% reduction in produce waste. Freshflow, a startup boasting 15 employees and €3 million in funding, has seen its software adopted by multiple shops across Germany, with pilot tests also running in France. According to co-founder Avik Mukhija, their system can cut waste by 20-25% and boost revenues by up to 3%.

The technology utilizes a vast array of data, including weather forecasts, real-time sales, and past promotion performances, to make its predictions. Despite fears of automation replacing human jobs, Mukhija emphasizes that Freshflow’s goal is to augment, not replace, the skills of fresh produce managers. This approach not only reduces waste but also acknowledges the unique contributions of human creativity in product presentation and promotion.

Tracking freshness with innovation

On another front, London-based startup BlakBear is pioneering gas-sensing technology to monitor the freshness of packaged foods like fish and meat. Co-founder Max Grell explains that their sensors, designed to be cost-effective at scale, can detect changes in the atmosphere within the packaging that indicate spoilage. By identifying gases such as ammonia and carbon dioxide, these sensors can communicate potential deterioration through RFID or Bluetooth technologies. BlakBear, which has raised £2.3 million and is collaborating with major UK retailers, envisions replacing traditional use-by dates with their sensors, providing consumers with a more accurate measure of product freshness.

The bigger picture: AI’s role in food retail

The adoption of AI in food retail is part of a broader trend toward more sustainable and efficient practices. With the European Union facing around 60 million tonnes of food waste annually, technologies that can accurately predict demand and track food freshness have the potential to significantly reduce this figure. However, the effectiveness of these systems relies on continuous monitoring and adjustment, as unpredictable consumer behavior or external factors can affect their accuracy.

Experts like Patrick Brandtner of the University of Applied Sciences Upper Austria see the integration of high-tech tools in food retail as a response to challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, inflation, and competition from giants like Amazon. Brandtner’s work, including collaborations with supermarket chain Aldi, highlights the potential of predictive analytics to adapt to shifts in consumer purchasing behavior, suggesting a future where AI could help navigate disruptions similar to the pandemic.

Suppliers are also leveraging AI to make informed decisions about production and promotion. Fresh4cast, a company facilitating suppliers in managing over 350,000 tonnes of food annually, enables users to simulate various scenarios and make quick, data-driven decisions. This collaboration between retailers and suppliers, fueled by AI, aims at maximizing efficiency and minimizing waste across the supply chain.

As supermarkets and their partners continue to explore and expand the use of AI, the benefits are clear: reduced waste, increased profits, and a more responsive food supply chain. The integration of technology in food retail not only addresses environmental concerns but also enhances the shopping experience for consumers, promising a future where technology and human expertise work hand in hand to meet the demands of a rapidly changing world.

Disclaimer. The information provided is not trading advice. Cryptopolitan.com holds no liability for any investments made based on the information provided on this page. We strongly recommend independent research and/or consultation with a qualified professional before making any investment decisions.

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Glory Kaburu

Glory is an extremely knowledgeable journalist proficient with AI tools and research. She is passionate about AI and has authored several articles on the subject. She keeps herself abreast of the latest developments in Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, and Deep Learning and writes about them regularly.

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