New Zealand Supermarket Rolls Out AI-Based Bot To Reduce Food Waste
Foodstuffs, a retail company based in New Zealand, has introduced a meal planning tool powered by ChatGPT-3, designed to assist people in utilizing leftover food. This innovative tool generates recipes for customers of the Pak’nSave supermarket chain.
Users visiting the website can input a minimum of three ingredients, and the Savey Meal-bot will create a meal plan or recipe based on those ingredients. The generated recipes can be saved and shared.
However, media reports have highlighted that the AI-powered app occasionally suggested ‘absurd’ and even ‘hazardous ingredients’ when customers experimented with non-grocery household items.
Some of the unconventional recipe suggestions included concoctions involving chlorine gas, ‘poison bread sandwiches’, and ‘mosquito-repellent roast potatoes’.
A spokesperson for the supermarket expressed disappointment over the misuse of the tool and emphasized that the intention was not for such inappropriate use.
They indicated that the supermarket would work on refining the bot’s controls to ensure safety and usefulness. The bot’s terms and conditions state that users should be over 18 years old.
A disclaimer on the website underscores that the suggested recipes are not reviewed by humans and that the company doesn’t guarantee their suitability for consumption.
As a response to the controversy, Pak’nSave has incorporated warnings and stricter restrictions into the app to prevent the emergence of problematic recipe suggestions.
Pak’nSave has also introduced other measures to combat food waste. For instance, bananas that ripen in-store are repurposed for freshly baked banana bread. If an egg breaks in a carton, the remaining eggs are used in the bakery.
Unsold cooked chicken is shredded as a pizza topping. Additionally, products nearing their best-before date are donated to local food banks.
According to the Kantar New Zealand Food Waste Survey, conducted by Rabobank and KiwiHarvest in April 2022, New Zealand households discard around $1,500 (approximately €820) worth of food annually.