- Cub Foods is deploying predictive fresh food ordering technology from Afresh Technologies across its fleet of corporate-owned supermarkets, according to a Thursday press release.
- The Minnesota-based retailer opted to step up its use of the artificial intelligence-based platform following a test at select stores that led to a "profound reduction in food waste," per the announcement.
- The rollout is part of a rapid expansion by Afresh, which expects to have its Fresh Operating System in about 2,500 grocery stores by the end of 2022, up from 200 at the beginning of the year, said Matt Schwartz, CEO and co-founder of the startup.
Supermarket chains have been showing especially strong interest in Afresh’s technology as the grocery industry grapples with the persistent inflation and supply chain issues, Schwartz said in an interview.
Like other grocers that have signed on with Afresh, including Albertsons, WinCo Foods and Heinen’s, Cub is using the technology to boost its ability to maintain its fresh assortment, improve efficiency and reduce shrink. Workers use tablets to place orders for goods through Afresh’s cloud based system, which is designed to help grocers balance the flow of goods to their stores with customer demand and other factors, like delivery schedules and environmental conditions.
“Enterprises react to incentives, and the incentive is to drive profit at the end of the day. And so finding ways to align profit with impact is the best thing we can do to get them to take action on these things,” Schwartz said.
Afresh has made a number of enhancements to its system over the past year, including the ability to account for erratic truck schedules and adjust for changes in produce package sizes, according to Schwartz.
Schwartz said Afresh is now adding new stores to its portfolio at the rate of about 100 per week. He declined to provide revenue figures for the company, which he said has more than 150 employees, or indicate if it is profitable.
Afresh, which was founded in 2017 and has said it hopes to have a presence in 10% of grocery stores in the United States by the conclusion of 2022, is on track to have its technology in more than 2,300 Albertsons stores by the end of the year, Schwartz said.
Afresh recently raised $115 million from investors, and Schwartz said he believes the company is well positioned to continue expanding even as other tech startups deal with fundraising challenges. “We see a massive growth opportunity in front of us. So we don't plan on stepping off the gas,” he said.