Progressive Grocer, By Mike Troy – 07/20/2020
Afresh Technologies secured an additional $12 million in Series A funding to pursue its mission of leveraging artificial intelligence to give grocers an easier and more accurate way to manage fresh food orders, inventory, and merchandising. Afresh has now raised $20 million with the latest funding round led by returning investor Innovation Endeavors with participation from Food Retail Ventures, Maersk Growth, Impact Engine, and existing investor Baseline Ventures.
The funds will be used to accelerate expansion of the company’s technology to more retail partners at a pivotal time for the food retailing industry, according to CEO and co-founder Matt Schwartz.
“The current pandemic has re-confirmed the critical role grocers play in our lives. More than ever, these businesses need smart, practical ways to keep stores stocked with fresh, nutritious food, to empower frontline workers, and to run operations in a sustainable and profitable way,” said Schwartz. “Our technologies make it easier for grocers to manage all aspects of their fresh departments, and, in doing so, dramatically expand their profitability by preventing millions and millions of pounds of food waste.”
The company’s flagship product was introduced last year to focus on fresh supply chains with the goal of enabling grocers to optimize the amount of perishable inventory they carry at any given time in a particular store. The ultimate goal is to achieve a perfect balance between minimizing food waste, maximizing in-stock rates and multiplying profits. The company maintains its system is unlike any other replenishment technology because it combines human-centric A.I., intentionally designed workflows, and holistic systems designed to address the complexities of the fresh food supply chain. Front-line staff on the grocery store floor access Afresh’s applications through an AI-powered app that runs on mobile devices.
Afresh’s store-level replenishment solution is the first of an interconnected suite of offerings from the company focused on optimization of warehouse and distribution center inventory, procurement, markdowns and pricing, inventory visibility and omnichannel enablement.
“In my twenty years running grocery businesses for Tesco, Carrefour, and Ahold USA, I have honestly never seen a tool that is so easy for the store teams to use for fresh food ordering,” said James McCann, chairman and CEO of Food Retail Ventures and former CEO of Ahold USA. “The KPIs they are delivering are truly game changing. I am excited that this new investment will allow Afresh to support more grocers in the coming months and help us reduce food waste across the US.”
Afresh is among a new breed of food-tech companies leveraging artificial intelligence to solve some of the most vexing challenges in food retailing. The company’s rapid ascension is also an example of how quickly innovation can occur in food retailing. Schwartz, Nathan Fenner and Volodymyr Kuleshov were graduate students at Stanford University in 2017 when they founded the company. Last fall, Afresh signed its first major retail customer when Fresh Thyme Farmers Market launched Afresh’s Fresh Replenishment tools across the chain. Other notables retailers are expected to begin using Afresh solutions in the coming months.