Have you ever noticed how people sometimes keep doing things over and over even though the results keep turning out badly?

For me, a good example would be home repairs. Whether trying to replace a faucet, change a light switch or install a security camera, you can count on me to break something, use the wrong part, lose one of the screws, etc. Yet, for years I continued to give it my best shot. This only served to frustrate me, irritate my wife and teach my kids the proper use of profanity. After years of poor outcomes, I finally wised up and decided to rely on professional plumbers and electricians.

Despite increased margin pressures in the retail grocery industry due to new competitors and partnerships, price wars and rapidly rising freight costs, many in the industry also keep applying the same old approaches to monitoring and managing their fresh food supply chain despite regularly being disappointed by the results. People continue to use tools that record temperatures at the trailer level even though there’s variation at the pallet level. USB data loggers or other legacy devices are inadequate when it comes to reducing waste or improving product margins (click here to read 10 Limitations of Data Loggers), but industry professionals keep using them.

To learn why these old approaches don’t work, Zest Labs did a study of blackberries on a five-day trip from Mexico to California. The trailer-level temperature monitor indicated that the trailer’s cooling system maintained temperature compliance for the entire trip – for the trailer. But while the trailer’s temperature remained in compliance throughout the trip, it’s not the condition of the trailer that we should focus on. We should be concerned with the condition of the pallets of blackberries on the trailer. By placing IoT temperature sensors on each of the pallets in the trailer, we found that five of the 26 pallets (nearly 20%) experienced significant temperature variations that would impact shelf-life. One pallet lost over nine days of shelf-life on the journey. Nine days of shelf-life incurred on a five-day journey. That’s significant.

The upshot of this is that five of those pallets are far more likely to spoil at the retailer or with the consumer. This leads to waste, and that means reduced margins and unhappy shoppers. By utilizing IoT condition sensors and cloud-based predictive analytics, we can determine the dynamic remaining shelf-life of each pallet of produce and proactively manage the processing and shipment of those pallets based on each pallet’s shelf-life to ensure that each one meets every retailer’s freshness requirements, reducing waste at the store and with the consumer.

It’s time to stop relying on tools and approaches that don’t effectively reduce waste and only identify problems after the fact. It’s time to start utilizing modern solutions that can prevent waste and improve product margins for retail grocers in an increasingly competitive market. Learn how Zest Fresh can help.