- Smarter Sorting is working with Feeding America through its MealConnect digital platform to help retailers more seamlessly move their excess food to the nonprofit, the tech company announced last month.
- The consumer goods data company will integrate its data-intelligence software with Feeding America’s platform to speed retailers' sorting process, while providing real-time updates about donation packages to improve visibility, according to the release.
- Costco, a Feeding America partner, helped to pilot the new service and is expected to scale the technology across its warehouses early next year, Smarter Sorting CEO Jacqueline Claudia told Supply Chain Dive.
Nearly 40% of the U.S. food supply ends up in landfills each year, according to U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates. Food producers and grocers have responded with pledges to reduce food waste, with donations to food banks a central part of the effort. Retail donations are Feeding America’s largest donation source, recovering over 1.67 billion meals from retail locations last year, according to Smarter Sorting’s release.
The MealConnect integration in particular will help advance Costco’s sustainability goal of diverting 80% of its waste. Grocery chain Wegmans is also in the process of implementing the technology, Claudia said.
Smarter Sorting works by logging retailers’ products in its backend system, then discerning if a product is donatable. The system considers both product chemistry and the retailer’s business rule on what items they would like to donate to the community, Chief Marketing Officer Patrick Armitage told Supply Chain Dive.
Now, when associates scan the barcode on a product, they are provided information on what they can donate instead of making the determination themselves. This information is then passed along in real-time to Feeding America’s local food bank through its MealConnect platform, he added.
Claudia said the food donation process has historically faced inventory visibility issues, causing logistical problems for retailers and nonprofits alike as they attempt to coordinate the flow of product from the store to a food bank.
“In the old world, Costco, for example, would send a spreadsheet of what’s available to Feeding America, but there’d be a day lag, and sometimes food that’s perishable is no longer good,” Claudia said. “Or the donation partner would show up and didn’t know what volume of food there was.”
The CEO said that the software integration should improve the accuracy and speed of the process by more than 30%.
“The ability to know four pallets of potatoes are going to be donated allows us to prepare the cook at the soup kitchen in advance of setting a menu,” Linda Golebiewski, the food sourcing compliance officer for God’s Pantry Food Bank in Lexington, said in a statement. “What Smarter Sorting and Feeding America have done has changed the way we do meal planning, engage with our community partners, and impact our communities overall.”
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