Demonstration Tests to be Held for Food Waste Reduction Taking Advantage of Electronic Tags (RFID)
- Effort for reducing food waste in online supermarkets -
January 20, 2021
The Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) has been advancing the FY2020 Project for Establishing Infrastructures for Enhancing Efficiency of Distribution and Creating Value Added Therein (Project for Food Waste Reduction in Supermarkets Taking Advantage of IoT Technologies), which has been commissioned to the Japan Research Institute, Limited. As part of this project, METI will conduct demonstration tests for food waste reduction taking advantage of electronic tags equipped with radio-frequency identification (RFID) technology in online supermarkets and consumer households.
1. Background to and purpose of the project
The distribution industry has been facing the advancement of serious labor shortages caused by the aging of society with fewer children being born, soaring labor costs in accordance with such shortages and diverse consumer demand. In addition, as the industry embraces many businesses in its supply chains of consumer goods, this situation is considered to make overall optimization of the industry difficult, resulting in food waste and returned goods.
In light of this situation, METI publicized two declarations jointly with operators of convenience store chains and with the Japan Association of Chain Drug Stores (JACDS), respectively: the “Plan to Introduce 100 Billion Electronic Tags for Products in Convenience Stores” in April 2017*; and the “Declaration of Initiatives for Making Drug Stores Smarter” in March 2018.** Since then, METI has been advancing enhancement of efficiency in related supply chains taking advantage of RFID and other technologies.
In this project, METI will conduct demonstration tests in which participating businesses and producers will: affix RFID tags to fresh food in production areas, secure traceability of the food in supply chains after shipment thereof (i.e., secure the situations which make the distribution history of such food traceable), make visible the level of the freshness of the food by using temperature and humidity data logger and sell the food at prices varying with the information on the level of freshness. Moreover, METI will also conduct demonstration tests in which it will collaborate with a smartphone application and encourage consumers to manage their household inventory of food that they have bought. Through these tests, METI will endeavor to enhance the efficiency of supply chains and improve productivity thereof, e.g., making information on supply chains visible, reducing food waste and providing value added products.
- *1. Plan to Introduce 100 Billion Electronic Tags for Products in Convenience Stores
- **2. Declaration of Initiatives for Making Drug Stores Smarter
2. Summary of the demonstration tests
Period of the tests
From January 20 (Wed.) to February 9 (Tue.), 2021
Business to which METI commissioned the tests (operator)
Japan Research Institute, Limited
ITOCHU Interactive Corporation, Ito-Yokado Co., Ltd., Toppan Printing Co., Ltd., Mitsui Chemicals, Inc., large system integrator, and about 20 production areas across Japan
About 3,000 items (to which RFID tags are affixed) from about 60 types of fresh food, e.g., fruits, vegetables, meat and fish, and other daily food
Details of the demonstration tests
In order to secure traceability of the target food items, participants will affix RFID tags to target food items in production areas, manage a series of information on the items in supply chains ranging from shipment from the production areas to distribution bases of wholesale businesses and supermarkets to consumers by making use of “foodinfo”, a system for tracing and managing food information.
Concerning fruits and vegetables, participants will pack these items together with temperature and humidity data logger at the time of shipment from the production areas, link the information on temperature and humidity which has been recorded in the distribution processes with the “Freshness Prediction and Visualization System” and manage item-by-item information on forecasted freshness.
Retail businesses as cooperators in the demonstration tests will sell target food products on a trial basis at “eatmate store”, an EC website for consumers who participate in the tests. Based on the information on forecasted freshness, they will show the level of freshness of the target food products on the EC website by using indices called “Toretate Do” (levels of freshness) and sell the products at prices varying with the indices (dynamic pricing).
Consumers who participate in the demonstration tests will buy food through “eatmate store”. As the shopping history of the food that they have bought will automatically be linked to a smartphone application called “eatmate”, the consumers, using the application in their smartphones, will be able to confirm information on their household inventory of food, the volume of food that they have consumed or disposed and other data.
- Based on the results of the demonstration tests, METI will examine the level of traceability secured and the effects of information on freshness of food and dynamic pricing on reduction of food waste as well as effects on reduction of food waste in households and other data.
Division in Charge
Consumer Affairs, Distribution and Retail Industry Division, Commerce and Service Industry Policy Group