It’s a relatively new approach to RFID, creating momentum around its application in food. And James Stafford, global head of RFID in Food at Avery Dennison, is up for the challenge. Why? Proven results. An exciting time for RFID, our technology is now gaining adoption in the food sector.
And next week at EuroShop, the world’s no. 1 retail trade fair in Düsseldorf, we’ll foster that growth in a live food retail demonstration with our partners at Tyco Retail Solutions, simulating a backroom and sales floor inventory stock, showcasing how RFID results in 20 percent reduction in waste and 99 percent inventory accuracy.
Meanwhile, we sat down with James to learn more on how RFID in food is trending, why tracking perishables makes sense and how Avery Dennison is innovating in the space.
What’s most exciting about your work in the food industry?
Food is something everyone is involved in. Everybody eats food! In the industry, there are always challenges, new expectations, and shifting focuses, from food safety to nutrition. It keeps it interesting.
Could you briefly explain how RFID technology is applied in the food industry?
It’s a fantastic technology that deals with complex supply chains.
Short shelf-life chilled foods are manufactured quickly through the supply chain and then managed in-store. There are daily item deliveries, so there’s potential for four or five different use-by dates to be in store at the same time. The food has to be manually inspected to ensure stock is rotated correctly. RFID tagging replaces the manual or barcode-driven systems with high-speed technology, disrupting the process.
On the shipping side, large volumes of food are delivered to depots, and from there, specific quantities ship to specific stores. It’s critical to have the right food with the right date go to the right store - RFID automates this process. The delivery depot can now scan items in and out, “talking” to the store, who has visibility to what’s coming before it arrives. With early morning deliveries, time doesn’t always allow a delivery load check; RFID has this done in seconds.
Expiration and Food Waste
RFID creates the opportunity for retailers to take action to ensure food is not sold outside of the use-by date, giving a detailed picture of inventory. Oftentimes food is not sold by its expiration date and thrown away, a moral and sustainable issue. The technology enables retailers to take early action and mark items down for sale to avoid incurred food waste.
How is Avery Dennison making a mark in this space?
We’re working with a number of major food retailers in the UK, Europe and U.S. to confirm the benefits of RFID’s use on food both at the distribution unit and fresh food item level. And our customers are seeing results.
We’re helping to reduce the labor cost to inspect foods, reducing food waste, and improving our customer’s distribution accuracy - you can get up to 100 percent accuracy reads in food distribution. We’re reducing food stock management costs by about 50 percent and food waste by around 20 percent.
How does a supermarket chain know if RFID is right for them?
Avery Dennison developed a 5-step adoption process, which has proved equally successful when applied to food. A chain knows if RFID is right for them based on its business case - what’s the problem that needs to be addressed, or opportunity that needs to be secured? We can build RFID deployment around a solid business case, yielding measurable benefits.
Once prospects use RFID, they discover how user-friendly it is and witness the benefits. We’ll then put the technology in their hands, with a simple process:
It's a recipe for success.
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