Green vision: French supermarkets can take waste reduction further with AI-enhanced forecasting

Posted in Digital Transformation, Retail
By Marketing on November 5, 2019
title with iphone and grocery basket

Public awareness of food and packaging waste is high in France and it seems government initiatives and retailer campaigns to tackle the issues are positively influencing consumer behaviour. It’s impressive that 63% of French consumers we questioned in a recent survey said they are less likely to throw away food on its sell-by date today than they were three years ago. This is compared to 55% of British and 57% of German consumers who think this way.

France is leading the field in green grocery retailing. Back in 2016, it became the first country in Europe to ban supermarket wastage. The law requires unsold food to be redistributed to food banks or charities, and retail groups are incentivised with tax breaks. Under the law, supermarkets can be fined up to €3,750 for each infraction if they fail to comply.

French Millennial and Gen Z supermarket shoppers feel guilty 

Despite progress, the French still have major concerns about protecting their planet. Nearly a quarter (22%) of all French respondents in our European grocery shopping survey say they feel guilty about using supermarkets because of environmental concerns. This rises sharply to 66% amongst Millennial and Generation Z shoppers (aged 16 – 34), who indicate the amount of packaging waste produced by supermarket shopping is the key driver for this guilt.

Expectations are extremely high in France

Our survey of more than 3,000 European consumers exposes the extent of consumers’ high expectations on environmental issues. In France, 83% of respondents said it is important that retailers and food manufacturers reduce the amount of food and packaging waste in the next three years, to prevent it from ending up in landfills and oceans.

They will reward supermarkets that succeed in greening their supply chains. We found that 70% of respondents in France will be loyal to a supermarket that has made a commitment to reducing food and packaging waste. Almost two thirds (60%) also indicated they would spend more money shopping with a food retailer that has made sustainability a priority. It’s clear that waste is as much a reputational issue for French supermarkets as it is a cost issue.

Leclerc and Carrefour combating waste 

French consumers believe the three most progressive supermarkets when it comes to reducing food and packaging waste are Leclerc (33% of our survey thought so), Carrefour (29%) and Intermarche (24%). Leclerc has been known for being at the forefront of this issue and addressing pollution and waste well ahead of regulations and pressure from public awareness.

Meanwhile, Carrefour’s big focus has been on “improved stock management, more carefully tailored orders, product assortments designed to cater to customers’ needs on a store-by-store basis,” according to its website. The supermarket giant works closely with its suppliers on efficiency and stock management.

Supply chain accuracy is a vital next step 

Accurate stock forecasting is known to be a key driver of efficiency, helping retailers to reduce stockouts and overstocks. Artificial intelligence is critical to taking accuracy to a level where waste can be virtually designed out of the supply chain. AI software solves real business problems by delivering highly accurate, automated mass promotional demand forecasting at the chain, store and SKU-levels. Developing better forecasting over time, a machine learning engine will significantly reduce current levels of waste, protect margins and reassure concerned shoppers that wastage is being addressed.

Machine learning forecasting 

Here at Rubikloud, we’ve worked with large grocery groups around the world who have been able to materially improve their forecasting accuracy without disrupting their technical footprint.  

In one recent supermarket project using Rubikloud’s AI engine the retailer was able to show an initial 7% improvement in forecasting accuracy. Each 1% improvement in the categories measured equated to tens of thousands of cases of product.  Monetarily, this improvement presented a $35M opportunity – just within the focus categories. 

At a time of slower consumer spending growth in France and intense pressure on margins, now is the time to step up efforts to cut out waste and give shoppers less to feel guilty about. 

Download our report today to find out more:

Unhappy shoppers? What European grocery shoppers really want and how supermarkets can deliver it with AI