This week Israeli startup Wasteless raised a $2 million Series A round, led by Slingshot Ventures with participation from several angel investors (h/t Agfunder). The company closed a $400,000 seed round in 2017, which, with their new capital, brings their total funds raised to $2.6 million.
Founded in 2016, Wasteless fights food waste on the retail side using a dynamic pricing algorithm. Using machine learning, Wasteless prices products in real time based on variables including expiration date, brand popularity, seasonal popularity, and more. The sooner a food will expire, the lower the price dips. Adjusted prices are displayed on electronic shelf labels which also show the product’s original price and expiration date, or online for e-commerce.
Employees can scan incoming cases of goods with an Android smartphone or a PDA barcode scanner. Wasteless’ tech then recognizes the expiration date of the product and the number of items in each case and uploads all of that information to their system, which syncs with both the electronic price displays and the retailer’s PoS system. (If the barcode is missing, the employee can scan one of the items in the case and enter the expiration date manually.) All of that information can be accessed via the Wasteless mobile app, which retailers can integrate into their own inventory tracking platform.
Reduced pricing for soon-to-expire products is nothing new in the grocery world. Many supermarkets offer a section of blanket discounted baked goods or prepared foods at the end of the day. But by bringing tech into the equation, Wasteless can theoretically fine-tune all prices to optimize sales, saving money for the retailer while reducing the amount of food it throws away.
Wasteless’ technology is a pretty strong win-win. Grocery stores can push more product and increase revenue while also cutting down on food waste. And many need some serious help in this arena: this April, the Center for Biological Diversity and the “Ugly” Fruit and Veg Campaign released a report grading how the 10 largest U.S. supermarkets managed their food waste, and let’s just say nobody was headed for valedictorian. Wastless could be a big help to get up these grades.
That is, if they can make it easy enough for widespread implementation. With different stores using different barcodes, inventory management systems, and PoS systems, it could be a big lift for Wasteless to manage onboarding all the different partners and training employees on how to use the new technology. Each store will also have to attach the electronic labels to the shelves in front of all products, which takes time and might require maintenance.
Thus far, Wasteless has piloted its technology at one Madrid location of a Spanish grocery store. With their new funding the startup is establishing New York headquarters, which will join its Tel Aviv and Amsterdam offices.