Afresh, a startup that uses artificial intelligence (AI) to help grocery retailers manage fresh food inventories, announced today that it has raised a $12 million follow-on to its Series A round of funding. The round was led by returning investor Innovation Endeavors with participation from Food Retail Ventures, Maersk Growth, Impact Engine, Better Food Ventures and existing investor Baseline Ventures. This brings the total amount raised by Afresh to $20 million.
A grocery store’s fresh food sections (think: produce, bread etc.) are trickier to manage than the aisles of CPG products as fresh foods have a limited shelf life and expire. The goal is to keep a store stocked with enough product that they don’t run out, but not so much that there is a lot that goes to waste.
That’s where Afresh says its technology can help out. As we wrote previously:
Afresh’s technology uses machine learning to analyze customer data and forecast product demand. Retail managers can then use the Afresh software to order the exact amount of fresh food that they’ll need — no more, no less.
Of course, maintaining fresh food stocks in-store has only gotten trickier since COVID-19 hit in full force. When the pandemic first started here in the U.S., panic buying translated into lots of empty store shelves. Since then buying habits have shifted too, with record numbers of people buying groceries online. All of these new buying patterns need to be taken into account as we adjust to this current pandemic and brace for any resurgences of the virus.
Afresh isn’t alone in its mission to cut down on food waste and help grocery retailers better manage their inventories. Crisp uses data and AI to offer a similar service to grocers. And online grocer Farmstead is built around algorithms that help it predict and better manage its inventory.
Though the world seems to be in a continuous state of unpredictable flux, we all still need to eat. Hopefully technology like Afresh’s can help mitigate any future shocks to the food system.