Microsoft IoT reduces food waste in Denmark

  • January 3, 2023
  • Steve Rogerson

Danish companies Salling and Danfoss are collaborating with Microsoft to reduce food loss and energy usage in retail refrigeration.

Up to a tenth of all greenhouse gas emissions are attributed to food loss and waste. With energy-efficient refrigeration, supermarkets can ensure the right amount of cooling is applied to prevent food from spoiling, all while conserving overall energy use.

For many years, the food retail industry has been undergoing a sustainable transformation, starting with the transition towards CO2 and other low global warming potential (GWP) refrigerants. Digitalisation is a part of the next phase of this journey.

Salling and Danfoss are working with Microsoft to empower sustainable food retail through digitisation. Salling aims to create a carbon neutral business and is investing over DKK2.4bn in the coming years into energy and sustainability projects.

Part of this initiative includes a collaboration with Danfoss and Microsoft to develop digital services to track temperature and energy use of supermarket refrigeration, enabling preventative maintenance to avoid food losses and energy waste.

“Our climate ambition includes a strong focus on reducing energy consumption as well as reducing food waste from our stores,” said Henrik Vinther Olesen, group vice president at Salling. “There is no doubt that new technologies will play an important role in reaching our targets, and we embrace new inventions in every corner of our business. We look forward to utilising this new technology and gain insights that will take us one step further in achieving our goal of removing our carbon footprint and running an increasingly more sustainable business.”

Starting this year, Salling, Danfoss and Microsoft will work together to use energy-efficient refrigeration systems and components, in addition to the real-time analytics from Danfoss for Salling stores in Denmark. Danfoss’ Alsense, an IoT platform built within Microsoft Cloud for Sustainability, will track refrigeration performance, allowing the retail managers to respond to alarms, ensure round-the-clock monitoring of food conditions, and reduce energy consumption.

The collaboration will see Salling also pilot a new feature of Alsense, called mean kinetic temperature, which expands the sensitivity of alarms. If a freezer door is accidentally left open or if a refrigerator temperature is incorrect, store managers will receive an alert when refrigeration reaches a danger zone before food has spoiled. These warnings will give store managers an earlier indication of a problem, so corrective action can be taken before food is lost.

Salling employees can also monitor the data for a specific store on a Power BI dashboard close to real time, allowing them to react proactively when drastic changes occur.

“We already have the energy efficiency technologies and measures available today to deliver huge emissions reductions,” said Jürgen Fischer, president of Danfoss Climate. “We are proud to be working with Salling Group, the largest food retailer in Denmark, as one of their partners for decarbonisation. With our expertise and know-how in the refrigeration domain, combined with Microsoft’s expertise in cloud and digital technologies, we have the right capabilities for delivering on a sustainability transformation in food retail.”

Salling was one of first adopters of CO2 refrigerants and has been collaborating with Danfoss since the 1980s to implement sustainable cooling technology in stores. Additionally, Danfoss has been partnering with Microsoft since 2019 to combine its domain expertise with the scalable, secure Microsoft Cloud platform.

“Sustainability is on top of the agenda for Microsoft and together with Danfoss and Salling Group we are able to demonstrate how technology can play a key role in our efforts to reduce food waste and carbon emissions,” said Peter Skov, enterprise commercial director for Microsoft in Denmark. “A key challenge for many organisations today is the ability to gather the right data and act on them accordingly – additionally to record and report on their emissions, which our platform enables. We are looking forward to invest more time together with Salling and Danfoss to see how our platform can support them even further on the sustainability agenda.”

With chains such as Føtex, Bilka, Netto, Salling department stores and BR, Salling has approximately 62,000 employees in Germany, Poland and Denmark serving ten million customers every week.