Afresh Platform Innovates and Drives Evolution Across Grocery Supply Chain; Matt Schwartz, Nathan Fenner, and Luke Anderson Discuss
SAN FRANCISCO, CA - While it is not yet in our grasp to truly read the future, there are companies in our industry working tirelessly to accomplish this deeply coveted aspiration, bringing more stability, foresight, and efficiency to the buy-side’s fresh produce operations. Afresh is one of these leading-edge enterprises, providing business solutions that are just as technical and nuanced (and yet accessible) as the fresh produce industry itself.
“The solutions we’re building at Afresh help grocers increase profits, improve efficiency, reduce food waste, and increase freshness—and they drive significant improvements across the fresh supply chain. Afresh takes a completely new approach that embraces the complexities of perishables by leveraging the most advanced artificial intelligence (AI) that recognizes and embraces uncertainty, and helps fresh teams make the best ordering decisions,” Chief Executive Officer and Co-Founder Matt Schwartz shares with me as the blueprint of Afresh unfolds.
So, how exactly are the pieces of such an intricate solution coming together?
“Essentially, Afresh has developed the industry’s first solution centered around the complexities of fresh,” Matt adds.
Using AI that’s both self-aware and capable of overcoming the uncertainty inherent to perishables, Afresh streamlines inventory decisions which, in turn, boosts profitability and reduces stockouts, shrink, and labor costs.
In a recent release this summer, Cub stores’ Chief Information Officer Luke Anderson cited the success of this technology.
“So far, the tech’s full rollout has led to an 18 percent decrease in produce shrink—a significant improvement from even Afresh’s initial savings estimates on the intro call,” Luke said.
Along with impacting operational and shrink costs, the time investment is affected by minimizing the effort spent by team members to assess inventory, forecast orders, and train staff. Training staff, in and of itself, is a huge labor solution. In addition, fresh produce is about as nuanced as a supermarket department can be.
“Fresh departments, especially produce, have long been underserved by technology, leaving retailers to rely on non-perishable solutions and manual workarounds that result in massive inefficiencies,” Matt says. “Our solution is 100 percent purpose-built for fresh—we’ve spent thousands of hours observing fresh departments to create a set of tools that can actually handle the complexities of perimeter departments and gain adoption from store teams.”
So much of the center store relies on perpetual inventory, which perishable food does not adapt to well—an area which Afresh addresses in spades. The company has built its own proprietary AI approach that provides order recommendations to help store teams maintain strong inventory positions. Recommendations are built using sales and shipment data, as well as item-specific characteristics that impact replenishment decisions, including perishability, seasonality, and demand trends that Afresh’s AI and machine learning can pick up on.
“Legacy, CAO-style replenishment systems, like those found in center store order based on forecasts—but that approach is too narrow for perishables,” said Nathan Fenner, President and Co-Founder of Afresh. “Fresh teams navigate a vastly different—and much larger—set of variables, so we’ve built a solution that takes a foundationally different approach. Rather than focusing solely on forecasting, Afresh is built to output highly accurate order recommendations which enables optimal ordering across the entire fresh department.”
The goal is to thrive, and it is how we all strive to perform. If you can believe it, this story is just an introduction to such feats. Stay tuned to AndNowUKnow as we dig deeper into Afresh’s solutions and what the potential of such a program can bring to retail customers.