Nothing to cook for dinner? While rushing to the supermarket, you will soon be able to consult the FoodLoop app and find the best offers close to you.
This system – made possible thanks to an EU-funded toolbox – informs you if a product is reduced in price because the 'best before' date is coming up. Consumers save money but also help reduce waste. Food close to expiry date is often thrown away by retailers, and as a result, 90 million tons of edible food ends up in the trash in the EU every year. Now these products can be tagged with new 'special offer' barcodes and FoodLoop’s users will be informed in real-time. FoodLoop will be launched soon in two bio supermarkets and a bakery around Bonn, Germany.
With the @FoodLoopApp, you search for a product of your choice to find the latest offers. The app includes a notification service for your phone: you can create your personal shopping list, containing those favourite products you regularly buy such as yogurts or bananas, and specify whether you want to be kept informed about special offers near you. If the price of your product is reduced, you receive an immediate notification. Depending on the product and number of days remaining, different discounts are applied.
Christoph Müller-Dechent, the founder of FoodLoop, explained: “The system is just as easy for retailers. We have developed a system that allows them to mark down products whose 'best before' date is close, almost automatically through a connection to their enterprise resource planning system.”
Avoiding Food Waste
Every day, two full carts of fresh groceries are thrown away in every supermarket, amounting to almost €150,000 per year per store.
Mr Müller-Dechent said: "There are different reasons behind this waste. Why should you buy some milk that will stay less time in your fridge if it is the same price as a more recent one that you can keep longer? There should be some incentive for that.”
Some supermarkets add stickers on products to advertise some last-minute discounts.
He continued: “This is not user-friendly – and not systematic. With the FoodLoop system, it is easier, better-organised and automated. Our goal is to see all supermarkets equipped with FoodLoop by 2025. To reach this goal, we receive the support of SAP SE, the global leader of enterprise resource planning systems. Sustainability is a major focus for corporations today which explains why Samsung, GS1, the University of Cologne, LASERSYMAG, SES-ESL, TARGET USA, NGA, CART, Sustainable Brands and Telefónica Spain are also endorsing FoodLoop."
Some supermarkets also donate some products to food banks.
Mr Müller-Dechent said: "Despite this possible solution to avoid waste, many supermarkets still throw most of the fresh groceries away, also for logistics reasons. Therefore other solutions such as FoodLoop are needed, and are complementary to donations."
EU Tools and Actions
FoodLoop’s creators used tools provided by FI-WARE, an open cloud-based infrastructure to create new apps and services, which is part of the EU Public-Private Partnership on the Future Internet designed to help start-ups thrive in Europe.
Vice-President of the European Commission, Neelie Kroes, responsible for the Digital Agenda, said: "I am happy FoodLoop is based on the building blocks provided by FI-WARE. The EU invested in one set of tools that can be used again and again to support other such great ideas. I expect to see even more innovative apps and services in the coming months: in September, €80 million of EU money will be available for around 1,300 small businesses and web entrepreneurs using FI-WARE tools. Be ready, and creative!"
The European Commission is determined to make European food system more sustainable and new technologies can also offer great solutions. With the aim to reduce food waste across Europe, to increase resource efficiency of the food system and to make sure food waste is systematically and properly measured by all Member States, the European Commission is planning to publish a Communication on Sustainable Food System.