Japan testing sandwiches that discount themselves as they age

Snacks will ID themselves using RFID and an app will tell punters when there's cheap chow to be chomped

Japan will conduct a test of sandwiches and other snacks that discount themselves as they age.

Trials due to run in two convenience stores starting next week will see RFID tags attached to perishable snacks such as sandwiches, rice balls and lunch sets. The RFID tags will be encoded with information including expiration dates.

“Smart shelves” that include RFID readers will keep track of the snacks and may also feature signage that advertises the reduced price of some of the goods they carry.

A smartphone app called “Ecobuy” is also part of the scheme and will allow customers to scan nearby stores to learn if any cut-price inventory is on offer. There’s also a loyalty scheme that will reward snackers for splashing on soon-to-be-expired goods rather than fresher fare.

Japan’s aim in this experiment is to avoid food waste, but also to avoid unnecessary labour. In its announcement of the trial the nation’s Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry points out that Japan has labour shortage due to a falling birth-rate and ageing population. If fewer snacks are thrown away, it has the potential to make industry more efficient.

The Register also imagines that a little more info about how long seafood has been on the shelf could also improve productivity.

This idea’s been around for a while: NTT has helped to develop the tech used in trials during 2018.

That the Ministry is now backing further tests suggests it is closer to finding favour among policy-makers, which is timely as Japan’s new prime minister Yoshihide Suga has made digitising the nation a key part of his platform. ®

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