Afresh announced today it has raised $13 million in new funding for its grocery retail management platform. The round, which is a Series A extension, was led by Food Retail Ventures with participation from existing investors Innovation Endeavors, Maersk Growth, and BaselineVentures. This brings Afresh’s total funding to $32.8 million.
San Francisco-based Afresh’s technology uses machine learning to analyze customer buying data for fresh produce and help grocery retailers forecast demand, which is harder to predict when it comes to perishable foods like fruits, vegetables, and breads. Grocery stores must order enough to meet customer demand, but not so much they are throwing out excessive amounts of unsold items and wasting both food and money in the process. Afresh’s technology helps grocery retailers forecast more precisely and order accordingly.
Right now there is a major need for this level of precision when it comes to grocery inventory. Panic-buying sprees at the beginning of the pandemic underscored some of the supply-and-demand shortcomings with grocery inventory systems. Afresh CEO Matt Schwartz told The Spoon earlier this year that “COVID was a test case” for the company’s overall structure. “Ultimately, we’re building the system for edge cases and supply interruptions,” he said.
At the same time, the world’s 1.3-billion-ton food waste problem grows more urgent each year. In the U.S. 40 percent of that waste happens in consumer-facing businesses like grocery stores and restaurants. In addition to helping grocers better manage supply and demand, Afresh’s platform can also help them cut the amount of waste they throw out (and save more money).
The pandemic, the record levels of online grocery shopping, and the food waste problem are collectively making inventory optimization a big business for the grocery sector. Afresh’s funding comes the same week Farmstead, another AI-powered platform, raised $7.9 million. Crisp, based in NYC, offers retailers a similar platform.
Afresh’s latest funding round follows another Series A follow-on from July, that one for $12 million. The company said today it will expand its product to new markets and add new features in the coming months.