April 30, 2024

What Causes Food Spoilage?

What Causes Food Spoilage?

Food spoilage happens when a perishable food product reaches a point where it is no longer suitable or safe for consumption by consumers. This issue can arise at any stage of the supply chain, spanning from the farm to the consumer's plate, resulting in food going to waste, being discarded, becoming spoiled, reaching its expiration date, or ultimately remaining uneaten.

Below, discover some of the top causes of food spoilage, the larger impacts of food spoilage, and how you can manage and reduce food waste across the supply chain.

What Causes Food Spoilage?

Since produce begins to decompose almost immediately, time plays a crucial component in the preservation of food. Food must be harvested, packed up, shipped, and stocked in stores as quickly as possible. Depending on the distance between the location of the food and where it will be stocked for consumption, the supply chain timeline could be up to a week after harvest, and sometimes even longer.

There are various causes of food spoilage, such as poor logistics, cold chain inefficiencies, unsuitable packaging, incorrect temperature storage, and transport delays. 

One common preventative measure for reducing food spoilage in the supply chain includes keeping perishable goods in conditions that delay spoilage, such as refrigeration. Nonetheless, despite the implementation of these preventive measures, food wastage still occurs at the grocery store level because of inadequate tracking and management practices.

Top causes of food waste at the grocery store level include:

Local store managers are often responsible for handling food orders and commonly base their buying decisions entirely on manual observations and records. Since this method doesn’t incorporate data analysis via technology, it causes over-ordering that leads to unnecessary food waste.  

Stores have a constant supply of new products coming in to ensure aisles are aesthetically appealing (rather than leaving out bruised or over-ripened produce due to a perception that customers won’t buy it). Leftovers caused by overstocking are thrown away in favor of more visually appealing food.

When store managers solely rely on recent data for their ordering decisions and fail to leverage inventory management systems, they often end up ordering an excess of the wrong items or insufficient quantities of the right items. This is because they are simply not equipped to adjust their orders based on current demand and trends. Essentially, when ordering is manually managed at the store level without a deeper understanding of sales and trends data, it isn’t possible to maintain optimal stock levels. 

Food waste at the store level can be significantly reduced with the use of monitoring systems. By being able to analyze market demand and current trends, grocery store managers can meet customer needs while reducing the amount of food they dispose of. Inventory analysis provides deeper insights into demand trends to ensure the right amount of product is ordered for each store location or to its last-mile destination. 

Financial, Economic, and Societal Impact of Food Spoilage 

There are also financial, economic, and social impacts of food waste that are a concern to all the players in the supply chain, from the farm to the consumer. 

Financial Impact

Food waste has significant financial costs, including costs to:

In addition to the monetary cost of the food wasted, there are additional financial costs associated with collecting, managing, and treating the wasted products.

Economic Impact

Whenever food is wasted, all the resources that have been used to produce that food, such as land, water, soil, and energy, are also wasted. The waste of resources is detrimental to the health of other humans, animals, plants, and ecosystems.

Social Impact

Globally, hundreds of millions of people are undernourished. Wasted food could have been used to help reduce hunger problems for these individuals and families. Lost and wasted food represents a missed opportunity to feed the world’s growing population.

Managing Food Waste in the Supply Chain

Controlling food waste starts with monitoring each process in the supply chain and identifying where the loss is happening. This can be done by conducting an audit that measures and tracks the amount of food waste and where it is occurring. 

From there, with the help of automation tools, inventory management can be improved, and distribution and transport solutions can be developed. Additionally, technologies such as biosensors and time temperature controls are used to monitor ideal storage conditions during transportation and at the final destination. 

Some ways to reduce food waste in the supply chain are:

How Evigence Can Help Reduce Food Spoilage

Effectively managing fresh food to prevent spoilage is undoubtedly challenging but entirely attainable. Evigence's sensor tracking technology offers distinctive tracking and data analysis capabilities that enhance efficiency throughout the entire cold chain process, significantly contributing to the reduction of food waste.

Our first-class and innovative technology combines sensors with data analytics to monitor food’s freshness at the item level in real-time, from production through consumption. The sensors, time-temperature indicators (TTIs), track cumulative time and temperature to monitor the freshness of perishable items, and provide actionable  valuable insights back to corporate users.  

Partner with Evigence to minimize waste and uphold product quality through our comprehensive freshness management platform, which utilizes temperature sensors, real-time alerts, and advanced analytical capabilities.

Learn about our cold chain freshness monitoring and last-mile services. 

Feel free to contact us with any questions about our service offerings.

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