Towards a Sustainable Food Supply Chain Powered by Artificial Intelligence
Wednesday, May 26, 2021
About 30-40% of food produced worldwide is wasted. This represents a $165B loss to the US economy and poses major environmental problems: it is estimated that food waste contributes to up to 25% of all greenhouse gas emissions. This session explores how artificial intelligence can be used to automate decisions across the food supply chain in order to reduce waste and increase the quality and affordability of food. We focus our attention on supermarkets — combined with downstream consumer waste, these contribute to 40% of total US food losses — and we describe an intelligent decision support system for supermarket operators that optimizes purchasing decisions and minimizes losses. The core of our system is a model-based reinforcement learning engine for perishable inventory management. Our system is currently deployed across 220 supermarkets in the US (handling ~2% of US produce volume) and has led to waste reductions of up to 50%. We hope that this talk will bring the food waste problem to the attention of the machine learning community.