James Stafford | Avery Dennison
Portrait of James Stafford
People Spotlight
The RFID technology enables retailers to take early action and mark items down for sale to avoid incurred food waste.

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James Stafford

Market Development Director

What’s most exciting about my work in the food industry:
Food is vital to life. In the industry, there are always challenges, new expectations, and shifting focuses, from food safety to nutrition. It keeps it interesting. It’s an exciting time for Avery Dennison RFID, as our technology is now gaining adoption in the food sector. While it’s a relatively new approach, it is gaining momentum.

RFID and perishable items:
Chilled foods with a short shelf life are manufactured quickly through the supply chain and then managed in-store. There are daily item deliveries, so there’s potential for four or five different use-by dates to be in any given grocery store at the same time. The food has to be manually inspected to ensure stock is rotated correctly. RFID tagging replaces the manual or barcode-driven systems with high-speed technology, totally disrupting the process, making to more efficient and accurate.

RFID’s impact on delivery:
On the shipping side, large volumes of food are delivered to depots, and from there, specific quantities ship to individual stores. It’s critical to have the right food with the right date go to the right store. RFID automates this process. The delivery depot can now scan items in and out, “talking” to the store, and the store has visibility into what’s coming before it even arrives. With early morning deliveries, time doesn’t always allow a delivery load check. RFID can handle this process in seconds.  

How we’re eliminating food waste with RFID:
RFID gives a detailed picture of inventory, helping retailers take the necessary actions to ensure food is not sold outside of the use-by date. Frequently food is not sold by its expiration date and therefore thrown away, which presents both a moral and sustainability problem. The RFID technology enables retailers to take early action and mark items down for sale to avoid incurred food waste.

How we’re making a mark in this space:
We’re working with a number of major food retailers in the UK, Europe, and the U.S. to confirm the benefits of RFID’s use on food, both at the distribution unit and fresh food item level. And our customers are seeing results.

We’re helping to reduce the labor cost to inspect foods, reducing food waste, and improving our customer’s distribution accuracy: RFID allows up to 100-percent accuracy reads in food distribution. We’re reducing food stock management costs by about 50 percent and food waste by around 20 percent. It’s astounding.

How a supermarket chain knows if RFID is right for them:
We’ve developed a 5-step adoption process, which has proven equally successful when applied to food. A chain knows if RFID is right for them based on its business case: what’s the problem that needs to be addressed or opportunity that needs to be secured? We can build RFID deployment around a solid business case, yielding measurable benefits.