Consumers call on retailers to reduce waste to protect bottom line


More than half (58.0%) of UK consumers are more likely to shop with a supermarket that is actively reducing its food waste, with a quarter (25.5%) saying they are ‘much more likely’, according to a new report by Checkpoint Systems.

The research demonstrates that across the country, consumers are willing to act with their wallets, finding stores that are openly committing to reducing their waste. These findings paint a stark picture of how poor management of food waste and in-store reductions can impact profit and loss figures, and why it is critical to find a way to efficiently manage sell-by dates on perishable goods.

Although consumers know they have a responsibility to reduce household waste, they are increasingly looking to retailers to take the lead. Eight in 10 (82.7%) believe that supermarkets could be doing more to reduce food waste, including better management of use-by-dates (47.7%); working with suppliers to reduce food waste across the supply chain (43.7%); and marking down (reducing) products earlier (41.1%).

The battle to reduce waste

Among the tactics noted by respondents, marking down products nearing their use-by dates is a proven method for retailers in their effort to reduce food waste. It enables stores to reduce the item rather than having to discard it. 

With the majority (83%) of consumers accepting that reducing food waste is important, the widespread acceptance of products nearing the end of their life is welcome. The report revealed that a third of UK consumers are visiting supermarkets specifically to look for reduced items, with more shoppers this year actively looking for marked-down items.

Across the country, just one in 10 shoppers say they never look for reduced items in store. Of the remaining 91%, two-fifths are actively looking for bargains, seeking out reduced items more this year compared to 2020.

Discounting food items with a short sell-by date is shown to recoup just 0.75% of the 4% revenue loss hat comes from food shrinkage and waste. In the already highly competitive grocery sector, where retailers have typically slim margins, discounted or unsold food items present a major challenge. 

According to Checkpoint, which develops solutions that enable UK retailers to improve inventory accuracy and reduce waste, two-thirds said that there is no limitation to what they would purchase when it came to marked down products. Just one in 10 claimed they wouldn’t buy certain products – mostly meat and seafood.

Protecting the bottom line

To manage sell-by dates on perishable goods, retailers are required to have a total view of their inventory at any given time. Here, inventory accuracy not only ensures brand owners can have a complete view of all merchandise and its location within the supply chain, but reduce lost sales and improve efficiency.

Here, Checkpoint’s new RFreshID fresh food solution uses RFID technology to allow stores to accurately monitor inventory levels and rotate stock efficiency as produce with near or exceeded expiry dates can be identified and removed with ease. 

It enables retailers to manage inventory and precisely plan when replenishments are required, as well as when stock needs to be marked down for sale. Checkpoint customers using the solution have already noted reduced food waste levels by as much as 60%. while also minimising the time spent required to manually check merchandise by up to 78%.

Improvements in inventory accuracy were also noted, achieving up to 99.99% in the stock room and up to 99% on the sales floor. By improving cycle count times, reducing waste and accurately managing expiry dates, retailers can enjoy an uplift in sales thanks to increased product availability.

Mike French, Business Unit Director, Checkpoint Systems UK, commented: “Consumers hold themselves, as much as retailers, responsible for reducing food waste, but it is clear that they want retailers to do more. Supermarkets have done fantastic work with charities to ensure more is redistributed, but they need to better manage their stock to ensure they can sell items rather than have to throw them away. 

“It is clear that shoppers are more than willing to purchase marked-down produce. As long as retailers have effective solutions in place to identify when items are nearing their end-of-life they can quickly rotate the stock, reduce the price if necessary and ensure it doesn’t get discarded at the end of the day.”

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