FOOD TRENDS

USE OF QR CODES TECHNOLOGY MAY CUT FOOD WASTE

Once deemed a clever tool used occasionally, mostly for marketing, the QR code can not only change how the food industry exchanges data with consumers, but it could also change our own expectations of how transparent our food supply chain can really become. How to convey the origin of all ingredients embedded in food products is no easy task unless consumers can intuitively use a piece of technology. The ‘use-by’ and ‘best-by’ dates printed on milk cartons and gallon jugs may soon become a thing of the past, giving way to more accurate and informative QR codes. A new study finds that consumers will use the QR codes -to better depict how long the milk is drinkable and create substantially less agricultural and food waste. As part of study, researcher placed a dynamic pricing element where consumers were encouraged to purchase milk with a shorter remaining shelf life — by offering a price discount as the best-by date approached. “During two-month study, over 60% of customers purchased the milk with the QR code, showing a considerable interest in using this new technology,” researcher said. “This revealed that the use of QR codes on food products can be an innovative way to address the larger issue of food waste. “Helping consumers to discard less food by providing them with more accurate “best-by dates” and information until when food products can be consumed has tremendous potential to save consumers money and to reduce environmental impact, he said. Not only could the QR codes accurately inform consumers on drinkability and dynamic pricing, he said, but the technology exists where smart milk cartons could communicate with smart refrigerators to inform a household of the need for fresh milk. Smart refrigerators ultimately could also tell consumers about a suggested recipe that uses the products in the refrigerator that are close to the end of shelf life, he said, “This type of new digital food system infrastructure can reduce food waste.”