Volodymyr Kuleshov (Stanford University)
About 30-40% of food produced worldwide is wasted. This puts a severe strain on the environment and represents a $165B loss to the US economy. This paper explores how artificial intelligence can be used to automate decisions across the food supply chain in order to reduce waste and increase the quality and affordability of food. We focus our attention on supermarkets — combined with downstream consumer waste, these contribute to 40% of total US food losses — and we describe an intelligent decision support system for supermarket operators that optimizes purchasing decisions and minimizes losses. The core of our system is a model-based reinforcement learn- ing engine for perishable inventory management; in a real-world pilot with a US supermarket chain, our system reduced waste by up to 50%. We hope that this paper will bring the food waste problem to the attention of the broader machine learning research community.