May 17, 2020

Tesco is expanding its food waste charity program in the UK

uk retailing
food waste
Frazer Jones
2 min
Tesco is expanding its food waste charity program in the UK
Last month, France took executive action with its new law mandating that supermarkets must donate still edible food past its “sell-by” date...

Last month, France took executive action with its new law mandating that supermarkets must donate still edible food past its “sell-by” date to food banks and other charitable non-profit organizations. But rather than a singular incident, this could be a trend that is spreading fast throughout the European Union. This month supermarket chain Tesco announced that it will be expanding its own charity food program to 10 flagship stores throughout the UK.

RELATED TOPIC: France’s new supermarket law is drastic (and you should be taking notes)

According to the BBC, this is not Tesco’s first foray into fighting back against the problem of food waste.  The supermarket chain has already implemented this program throughout its locations in Ireland, and has been working with partnering food redistribution charity Fare Share in various capacities since 2012. But this new initiative will significantly expand the initiative and incorporate new technology to facilitate its growth. The BBC reports that Tesco is working on an app through Fare Share and Ireland’s Food Cloud to help Tesco store managers communicate with charities on what surplus food will be available for pickup at the end of each day.

RELATED TOPIC: 3 challenges UK supermarkets are facing in a shifting economy

"No-one wants to throw away food which could otherwise be eaten," Tesco chief executive Dave Lewis told the BBC. "We don't throw away much food in our own operations, but even the 1% we do throw away amounts to 55,400 tonnes. This is potentially the biggest single step we've taken to cut food waste, and we hope it marks the start of eliminating the need to throw away edible food in our stores."

RELATED TOPIC: Combating food waste on World Environment Day

Tesco’s partnership with Fare Share is a strong example that a good partnership can be key to moving forward on a large initiative of this kind. For other supermarket chains considering making similar moves, the first step could be finding a local partner with the capacity and resources to achieve a similar goal.

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Jun 21, 2021

McDonald’s Drive-Thru attendants replaced with AI

Helen Adams
2 min
AI is ready to take orders from customers at McDonald's in Chicago and a nationwide rollout is likely

Fast food goliath McDonald's has trialled an AI voice recognition system at several drive-thrus in Chicago, USA, expanding from the one single test in a restaurant launched a few years ago. 

As the price of food rises, businesses look for ways to save money and cutting out entry-level jobs, such as drive-thru attendants, is one option.


AI helps businesses, but threatens jobs

In the post-pandemic era, utilising AI technology seems like a sensible idea. AI outperforms human labour in a number of ways:

  • AI drive-thru attendants do not get sick, do not need sick leave, parental leave, holidays, weekends or time off
  • AI do not require payment and cannot set up a Trade Union
  • AI do not have rights
  • AI cannot be late for work
  • AI can be cleaned and remain more hygienic than humans


For these reasons, many are concerned that AI could take away job opportunities.

At 16, Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon and the richest man in the world, took his first job in the fast food franchise. Bezos said he became grateful for the experience of working under pressure and that the role also taught him about being a good manager. Employing AI in such roles will mean less people get to learn from these entry level jobs. 


AI accuracy lacking at McDonald's

McDonald's purchased the drive-thru voice technology from the startup Apprente in 2019.

Apprente creates speech-based AI businesses. The business “delivers enterprising solutions for a broad range of customer service applications that presently necessitate human interaction”.

But the AI technology used in the McDonald’s drive-thru so far, is reportedly only 85% accurate and one fifth of orders need help from a human to put through. For customers with specific dietary requirements, this could lead to problems in order mix-ups. 

Regardless, CEO Kempczinski has estimated five years before a national rollout.

"There's still a lot of work, but (...) we feel good about the technical feasibility of it and the business case," Kempczinski said in a conference transcript from FactSet.

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