How IoT Helps Battle The Global Food Waste Crisis | IMS-Evolve's Jason Murphy | E230
- [Voice Over] You are listening to the IoT for All Media Network. - [Ryan] Hello, everyone, and welcome to another episode of the IoT for All Podcast, the number one publication and resource for the Internet of Things. I'm your host, Ryan Chacon. If you are watching this on YouTube, we truly appreciate if you'd give this video a thumbs up and subscribe to the channel.
If you're listening to this on a podcast directory, please subscribe if you have not already done so. Alright, on today's episode we have Jason Murphy, the managing director of global retail at IMS Evolve. They are a company that works with some of the largest supermarket brands in the world to deploy IoT technology, helping to do things like reduce carbon emissions in the food supply chain, help turning supermarket fridges into basically giant virtual batteries to help stabilize the grid, lots of very cool things they're working on. We talk about a number of different topics today, digital transformation in the food retail space, how IoT solutions can help retailers control costs, how can IoT help retailers control internal costs and minimize the impact of inflation on consumers, and also how IoT can even help with the global food-waste crisis.
So lots of topics related to the food industry, I think we'll get a lot of value out of it. But before we get into it, any of you out there are looking to enter the fast growing and profitable IoT market but don't know where to start, check out our sponsor, Leverege. Leverege's IoT solutions development platform provides everything you need to create turnkey IoT products that you can white label and resell under your own brand. To learn more, go to iotchangeseverything.com,
that's iotchangeseverything.com. And without further ado, please enjoy this episode of the IoT for All Podcast. Welcome, Jason, to the IoT for All Podcast.
Thanks for being here this week. - [Jason] Hi, Ryan, thanks for having me on. - [Ryan] Absolutely, so I wanna kick this off by having you give an introduction about yourself to our audience, if you wouldn't mind. - [Jason] Okay, so Jason Murphy, I'm the managing director for global retail for IMS, and it's really a role that emerged out of my long 30-year career in retail.
So originally in store ops before moving to central teams around facilities and food quality. And during that retail journey in that central role, one of those central roles, I was head of change for the maintenance and energy division of that retailer. And that's where I first started to look at, how can technology, which would now be probably reframed, 'cause this was 10 years ago, reframed as digital transformation, help me drive significant improvements around customer experience, supporting colleagues in store, and improving productivity, and reducing our, you know, maintenance and facilities cost, and that's where I first come across IMS Evolve. And subsequently I've now moved to IMS Evolve, and I lead our engagement with retailers globally. And because of my background, and for me it's, you know, some of it's around technology and we can get really obsessed with how cool technology is, and how cool IoT is, and how cool like digital transformation is.
But it's how do we, and in my role, my team, support customers with the changes that are required often to get the outcomes from digital transformation? So that's my role, that's what I do with IMS Evolve. - [Ryan] Fantastic, and regarding IMS Evolve, can you tell our audience a little bit more about kind of what you all do, the focus, how you fit into the IoT space, that kind of thing? - [Jason] Yeah, so IMS Evolve has been around since before the turn of the century. So IMS Evolve has been doing IoT before it was IoT. Traditionally, it was formed to solve a problem for a major retailer about visibility of refrigeration infrastructure and problems with that infrastructure, so to bring that into, you know, a global view, a central view of those problems and take action. So that's where it was born from.
And now it's evolved and developed more into, you know, doing that as part of our core business. So extracting the raw data, using edge technology from controls infrastructure around refrigeration, but also now heat and ventilation, lighting, energy, and any underlying asset that's either business critical or high energy consumption. And, using our edge technology, we create and shape that data from the raw data at the edge through the controls infrastructure, and it really doesn't matter how old it is, we work with legacy and new, and we create an IoT layer over that infrastructure. And then, what we do is put out sort of rules, policies, you know, now known as AI and machine learning, down at the edge and drive action from that insight that we get from the data. And that really gets pointed at a couple of key areas.
One is, you know, reduction in things which are really important like food waste. Reduction in the energy costs of those assets. But also, you know, how do we make it cheaper to maintain, how do we predict problems before they happen? You know, how do we ensure good availability of good, quality food and produce in the stores? So we are reading and writing to that underlying infrastructure through our IoT layer. - [Ryan] Fantastic, yeah, I actually wanna dive into that here in a second, but I wanted to start off kind of this next section of our conversation and ask if you could give us kind of a high-level overview of digital transformation, kind of IoT technologies being involved in the food retail industry, since I know it's a space that you have experience in, and focus on just if we high level it for our audience, how should they be thinking about the connection of digital transformation IoT technologies in that particular industry and how it's being used? - [Jason] Yeah, really good question. So from my point of view, having been in the retailer side, when I started looking at around 2012, I was looking for how can technology, you know, do those things around improving productivity, reducing costs and making things better for customers, and being really focused on the different types of technology that are out there that can help me with that. So I guess my focus is around those big energy consuming, mission-critical assets that retailers have.
So I think a key piece is the ability to understand retailers and understand, you know, in order to transform something within a retailer, it's gotta be reasonably straightforward to implement. We've got to understand how does that shape and change operational processes, because, you know, you could put technology and we can automate, but that's only often part of the journey. So how do we help retailers with, you know, if I'm gonna give you better data and give you better information on your work orders for refrigeration, how do you then use that with your contractor base about delivering better? So there's a whole engagement and transformational piece that has to happen and I think we have to think about all of those parts of the change in order to make it successful. And I think being able to trial, prove and show is really, really important, and to be able to do that at a reasonable pace.
'Cause in this field, in IoT, we all use similar language and the people are getting a bit deaf to some of that language. "I've heard it before, I've been promised it before, it was never quite delivered." And retailers are very aggressive around return on investment. "If I'm gonna do something, how does it pay me back"? Because actually what I'm trying to do here is I'm reducing my cost of making things better, I'm gonna free up cash to invest in price, which is really important at the moment, put more staff in the shops, you know, all of those things that are important to a retailer.
So we have to be really strong around being able to prove an aggressive ROI, return on investment, for the retailers. - [Ryan] Yeah, and there's two things you mentioned there that I actually wanted to expand on. One is kind of the costs that they have that are more internal. And then, the other is kind of the more, I guess it would be more around the cost, kind of around transporting energy, the food related or the goods related costs associated with it. But could you kind of, in the terms of how IoT solutions play a role here, how are they helping retailers control the costs on around the transport of goods, energy, and food? And then, on the other side of that, how can IoT help retailers with those internal costs that they have more control over, you know, more actively looking at, to minimize the impacts on the consumers' side of it? - [Jason] Yeah, and all of that is more important than ever before now with the rising cost of inflation. You know, retailers who get it right around price in the next two years are gonna be the winners really, that are able to minimize the cost of inflation, the passing on in their products to customers.
So in terms of transportation, so we don't do a huge amount around that currently, you know, so if I focus more on the shops, if that's okay? - [Ryan] Sure, yeah, of course. - [Jason] Yeah, so we look to do a number of different pieces with customers and drive some really strong value outcomes. So firstly, you know, around food and food quality.
So food waste is a high cost to retailers. Globally, we're talking in the food chain, 1.3 billion tons of food goes to waste. In the UK, that's around 17% of all food.
In the US, it's high. It's close to 24% of all food is going to landfill and driving methane gas into the environment, which is more impactful than traditional CFCs. So by being able to manage the underlying infrastructure, adjust the underlying infrastructure, and optimize it so it's running, you know, as it should be at its most efficient, as most efficient, we can ensure that the food quality is protected. Now, you know, assets will fail. So if we can start to move back up and start to predict failure before they happen, and get a technician out to resolve it before food is impacted, that's one of the things we do.
Secondly, there's a reactive issue. How quick can we see that failure? How quick can we notify store colleagues and associates to protect that stock? You know, these things we are doing currently with global major retailers to drive a reduction in food waste. And we will see typically between a 50 and 90% reduction in food waste using our products from refrigeration, food loss from refrigeration breakdown. What we're doing alongside that is by optimizing the asset and making sure it's run its most efficient and protecting the food, we also are reducing its energy consumption. So it's a win-win.
And for retailers in the UK, we're talking, you know, 40 to 50% of their energy costs for a store is in refrigeration. So we can run optimization programs where we're ensuring that the assets are running at their most efficient, providing the best food quality for customers that can reduce the energy consumption of refrigeration by between five and 7%. Now on top of that, we are looking to reshape how we maintain. So if we can get ahead of problems and get technicians there with longer SLAs, so instead of in a reactive problem, you've gotta be there within two hours 'cause we've got a failure, if we can bring that upstream a bit and say actually, "Within the next week, you need to go and have a look at this," we can reduce the cost of maintenance as well. And while we're doing that, because we are linked into the workflow and driving that workflow, we can monitor the resolution once it's happened. So we can then say, "Is the contractor doing the job right? Is this asset running at its optimized level? Is it delivering fit-for-sale produce?" If they're not, we can then call them back.
So in that case, we're then reducing the cost of maintenance within the refrigeration. So you can see by combining a number of streams of value benefit for a customer, we start to get to a place where, you know, we're moving away from linear business cases. Often with IoT, we say, "I can fix one thing for you." But if we get really strong control over the data, shape that data using algorithms to understand, you know, how things should be, and if they're not where they should be, we can start to fix multiple different issues for retailers and reduce costs substantially. - [Ryan] Right, yeah, it's interesting 'cause like as we think about it from the business side where we're talking about reducing costs, I feel like a lot of the additional benefit of these solutions, aside from the cost benefit for organizations, does play into a lot of things you've mentioned around the food waste side of it and helping solve that, as well as the quality of food for consumers. Can you maybe touch on a little bit more specifically, away from more of the business side, but more of the food quality and the food waste side, how this is really driving solutions forward kind of around these areas? - [Jason] Yeah, and I think this is where, you know, all of us working in IoT and working with retailers really need to get behind this and make a difference for customers.
So if we look at food waste, and that 1.3 billion tons of food waste, and its impact, and, you know, that opposing problem we've got with things like food poverty, they just don't make sense in developed countries, and that pressure's becoming more and more. So we need to really put our minds behind how we can help the consumer, and we can do that by helping the retailer, and we can do that by making things better there. So when the consumer gets product, and we all have had this experience where fresh produce doesn't last very long in our home, and I think that's where we need to make it better. Because 70% of global food waste comes at the consumer, not at the retailer or in the supply chain. So we need to work on management throughout that supply chain.
And we're currently working in the UK with the University of Lincoln Agricultural Science Unit, and we've got some funding from the UK government under Innovate UK, to look at how do we move away from this really quite old approach around things, like used by dates and best before dates on food, because that drives a lot of behavior and food waste within the consumer's home. So we're starting to look at the whole supply chain, incorporating blockchain to look at the temperature regimes from farm through to the consumer. And actually within that, we're looking to see if we can develop what we're calling a food quality index that can actually be a much better predictor of food quality and life than the arbitrary, and necessary, time and temperature that's currently applied to, you know, fresh food and food safety at the moment in all countries. So we're currently looking at how do we, you know, connect all those dots across the supply chain to better manage food, so by the time it arrives with the consumer, it's a much higher quality, a much higher nutritional value, and it lasts longer, so we start to make an impact on reducing, you know, food waste at the end of the supply chain. So I think that's one way.
I think there's some other really cool stuff out there. You know, I've seen in the UK like a food-based covering that's going on to produce that helps it last longer. I've seen companies like Pure in the US that have got air purifying that can actually remove the contaminants that, you know, impact food life. So I think we need to be looking more to those type of technologies and moving away from a traditional approach to reducing. 'Cause if we leave it to the retailers to reduce it, they'll reduce it, but I'm not sure they'll do it to the benefit of the consumer. - [Ryan] Well, I think their incentives at times are a little different for what they're trying to do and the approach they would take.
I've had some other guests on here who have talked about the whole supply chain when it comes to food and the food industry, and how there's lots of different pieces even before it gets to the retailer, it gets to the consumer, that IoT can come in and really play a role to minimize food waste so that when the food gets to its end, or it gets to the food retailer, there's, you know, less waste, the quality has improved, it's been monitored and tracked, so it's over the entire course of its life. And all of those things are what IoT can enable and I think it's fantastic. - [Jason] Yeah. And that's the piece we're looking at around, you know, Digital Sandwich is an interesting product, because it's something that's many different fresh ingredients that's then, you know, from a larger piece broken down to a smaller piece.
So, hence, the utilization of things like blockchain. Which has been slow to take off in retailers 'cause it's quite clumsy on the handoff. So we're looking at, you know, how do we make that simpler through apps to monitor and record those blockchain interactions? And you're right, the supply chain, you know, it's almost, even though it's connected, it's almost separated, and we need to bring it together so it feels like one piece.
- [Ryan] Yep, yep, totally agree. One of the things I wanted to ask you, you mentioned this early on in our conversation and I wanted to kind of get this in before we wrap up here. You mentioned that there's a level of resistance to change, or I guess you were kind of framing it more in the difficulty of them potentially wanting to adopt. They wanna see ROI quicker and there's a lot of demands from them in order to adopt a technology like this.
How do you handle those situations? And I think it's good advice for people out there listening who are in other industries who are in a similar spot. They're trying to introduce IoT solutions, knowing what it can possibly do, but there seems to always be some level of resistance from certain organizations, whether it's because they just don't wanna change the way they do it, they're hesitant to bring in new technology given their current infrastructure, they have really high ROI demands, so they wanna see stuff quickly and sometimes, with IoT, it takes a little longer. - [Jason] Yeah, really strong hurdles. Yeah, yeah. - [Ryan] Exactly.
So what is your kind of overall advice and approach to handling those types of situations when you encounter a customer that has that kind of thought process? - [Jason] Yeah, I think from my point of view, you know, I may be slightly in my comfort zone. I'm a retailer, I work with retailers, so I've done what they've done, and I've done the transformation that they're doing. So that's helpful, so understanding how to enact that transition. I think sometimes in technology we've done this to ourselves, there's a lot of overpromising and underdelivering, like excitement around, "We can do this, we can do that," and when it comes to the proof, it's not quite as good or not quite as quick.
So I think we need to be really strong around, how do we show that it can be done? And how do we show it can be scaled? And we need to be really thinking about, it's not just about putting some technology into a business, it's about transformation. And part of that is digital, and part of that is almost analog, in terms of the people and the process. And we need to be making our products better at helping that transition. So a couple of ways to do that is if it's gonna have to enact some workflow, can we automate that within the software, which is what we look to do as much as possible. So can we take the heavy lifting out of the transformation? We're working with stakeholders and customers that are managing multiple products and projects, and managing multiple stakeholders themselves.
So the more we can help them do their job and ease that delivery, the more likely we are to get traction. And I think it's really important to have an approach that involves all the stakeholders. So we don't just work with the maintenance and energy divisions, we're working with the retail ops division around how we can make things better for them in shops, how we can reduce their costs, as well as the energy team, as well as the maintenance and facility team. So the more hits we can have in terms of making it better, the more traction we're gonna get, because it'll get more support from those stakeholders within the business. And I think if we're going in with one thing that we're really excited about, that, "If you install this, it will do this," then I'm not sure that's enough anymore.
I think we have to be thinking about, how does it affect the whole business? And we've gotta understand the customer we're working with. So if we're approaching a retailer without thinking about what it's like for store associates and colleagues, then we're not approaching it right. We've gotta think about them. - [Ryan] I totally agree, I think there's a lot of value that is often overlooked in having that domain experience, and understanding, and being able to speak the language of the customer. So there's a lot of value there for sure. Sometimes it's not something that a potential seller or company has, and acquiring that in some fashion, whether it's bringing on a member that has background and experience in the industry trying to sell into, but that domain experience I think carries tons of weight.
And it's something that I've seen a lot of other companies, the more successful ones, is because they understand, they don't necessarily have to be experts, they just have to be able to understand the pain points, understand the landscape and where these people are coming from, so that they can better articulate the value IoT provides. - [Jason] Yeah, and we've gotta move our language out of the stuff we get excited about. I mean, I'm not a techie. - [Ryan] Absolutely. - [Jason] I like how technology drives outcome and value, and makes things better. So I think we need to take our language away from the technology into what it does.
- [Ryan] Absolutely, could not agree more. So let me ask for our audience out there who wants to follow up and learn more about kind of what you have going on, maybe follow up with questions, do any kind of kind of engagement past this episode, what's the best way for them to do that? - [Jason] Yeah, you can hit us up on our website, ims-evolve.com. We're on LinkedIn, we're on Twitter. So yeah, if you connect with us, we'll start that conversation.
- [Ryan] Fantastic, well, it's been really a pleasure. I really appreciate you taking the time to be on. I think, you know, anytime we can talk about the retail space, around food, just food in general, and how IoT's really benefiting and providing value, we've only done it a few times, I think the approach and the side that you're coming to it from is fantastic. So it's gonna be a lot of value for our audience.
So really appreciate it, Jason, thanks so much. And, hopefully, we can make more content together in the future. - [Jason] Oh, great, look forward to it, thank you. - [Ryan] Yep, all right, everyone, thanks again for watching that episode of the IoT for All Podcast. If you enjoyed the episode, please click the thumbs up button, subscribe to our channel, and be sure to hit the bell notification so you get the latest episodes as soon as they become available. Other than that, thanks again for watching, and we'll see you next time.