AI-Powered Tech Company Helps Grocers Start Afresh in Supply Chain Management

by Kristen Yee

Talk about going after low-hanging fruit. Afresh is an AI startup that helps grocery stores and retailers reduce food waste by making supply chains more efficient.

In the latest episode of NVIDIA’s AI Podcast, host Noah Kravitz spoke with the company’s cofounder and president, Nathan Fenner, about its mission, offerings and the greater challenge of eliminating food waste.

Most supply chain and inventory management offerings targeting grocers and retailers are outdated. Fenner and his team noticed those solutions, built for the nonperishable side of the business, didn’t work as well on the fresh side — creating enormous amounts of food waste and causing billions in lost profits.

The team first sought to solve the store-replenishment challenge by developing a platform to help grocers decide how much fresh produce to order to optimize costs while meeting demand.

They created machine learning and AI models that could effectively use the data generated by fresh produce, which is messier than data generated by nonperishable goods because of factors like time to decay, greater demand fluctuation and unreliability caused by lack of barcodes, leading to incorrect scans at self-checkout registers.

The result was a fully integrated, machine learning-based platform that helps grocers make informed decisions at each node of the operations process.

The company also recently launched inventory management software that allows grocers to save time and increase data accuracy by intelligently tracking inventory. That information can be inputted back into the platform’s ordering solution, further refining the accuracy of inventory data.

It’s all part of Afresh’s greater mission to tackle climate change.

“The most impactful thing we can do is reduce food waste to mitigate climate change,” Fenner said. “It’s really one of the key things that brought me into the business: I think I’ve always had a keen eye to work in the climate space. It’s really motivating for a lot of our team, and it’s a key part of our mission.”

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