New Zealand Supermarket Rolls Out AI-Based Bot To Reduce Food Waste

By Branislav Pekic
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New Zealand Supermarket Rolls Out AI-Based Bot To Reduce Food Waste

New Zealand-based retailer Foodstuffs has launched a ChatGPT-3-powered meal planning tool that generates recipes to help people use leftover food.

Customers of the Pak'nSave supermarket chain can go to the website, enter a few ingredients, and the Savey Meal-bot will generate a meal plan or recipe.

A minimum of three ingredients are needed and users can then save and share the recipe.

However, according to media reports, the AI-powered app also combined 'absurd' and often 'toxic ingredients' when customers experimented with non-grocery household items.

Some of the unusual dishes suggested include recipes for chlorine gas, 'poison bread sandwiches', and 'mosquito-repellent roast potatoes'.


'Fine-Tuning' Controls

A supermarket spokesperson told The Guardian they were disappointed to see that "a small minority have tried to use the tool inappropriately and not for its intended purpose."

In a statement, they said that the supermarket would "keep fine-tuning" the controls of the bot to ensure it was safe and useful, and noted that the bot has terms and conditions stating that users should be over 18.

The disclaimer on the website warns that recipes are not reviewed by humans and that the company does not guarantee that suggested recipes will be "suitable for consumption."

Following the controversy, Pak'nSave added warnings and tighter restrictions to the app regarding suggested recipes


Other Initiatives To Reduce Food Waste

Pak'nSave has also implemented other initiatives to reduce food waste.

Bananas that are ripening in-store go into freshly baked banana bread; if an egg breaks in a carton, the rest of the eggs from the carton go to the bakery; and unsold hot cooked chicken are shredded as toppings for pizzas.

Additionally, all products close to their best-before date go to the store's local food bank.

According to a Kantar New Zealand Food Waste Survey, conducted by Rabobank and KiwiHarvest in April 2022, New Zealand households throw around $1,500 (€820) worth of food each year.

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