iThanks: from Turin, the app that "monitors" expiring foods in supermarkets

May 24, 2021
The digital assistant monitors the products on the shelves of the large-scale retail trade in order to reduce waste and optimize last minute offers on products close to expiration.

In Italy, food waste along the distribution chain from wholesale to retail is estimated at 220,000 tons, equal to a loss of over €3 billion. In addition to the costs in economic terms these wastes have also a huge negative impact in environmental terms costing the emission of 1.7 million tons of CO2.

To mitigate the effects of this problem the Turin startup iThanks, awarded in 2020 as the best participant in the Athena Startup Battleevent, was born from an idea of the company EK Service, born in 2019 from the collaboration of Marco Cartolano, CEO of the project and store manager in large-scale retail, and Andrea Gasco, CTO and IT. The idea is to find a smart solution to respond to the need to manually check, twice a week, the expiration dates of products on the shelf, which is an inefficient and excessively time-consuming activity and little.

"We started with a normal spreadsheet then developed a first version of the algorithm and put it to the test on some brands through a web app," Cartolano explained. After its conception, the project was supported by the Nilab lab of the Turin Chamber of Commerce, from the MIP of Metropolitan City of Turin and from the partnership with Torino Social Impact.

The app is already in use in some stores in Piedmont and Emilia Romagna and works as a digital assistant to support the management and automated control of the expiration dates of foods on sale. By collecting data, it also offers help in producing reports and statistics on stock trends so as to rationalize and optimize store choices, improving performance in a totally new way that would have been difficult to achieve with human intervention. Cartolano explained that the app will provide retail managers with data on the products that have depreciated the most, remaining unsold to the point of expiration, useful for recalculating subsequent orders by purchasing different products or in different quantities..

This project will allow us to respond to a large problem in a collaborative way and from different perspectives, combining the efforts and needs of retailers and consumers. iThanks has recently joined forces with LMSC - Last Minute Under the House, another startup from Turin, whose aim is to create a community of consumers sensitive to food waste issues that allows them to choose and buy expiring products from supermarkets.

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Luca Coppolella
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