No one likes food that isn’t fresh. SpartanNash is looking to address both food waste and enhance its fresh departments by turning to an artificial intelligence solution.
The grocery distributor and wholesaler announced on Thursday it is piloting Afresh Technologies’ predictive ordering and inventory management system at 10 Family Fare stores it owns in the Grand Rapids, Michigan, area.
SpartanNash Chief Merchandising Officer Bennett Morgan said in the announcement that the tie-up with the fresh food technology company will give its store workers greater insights into the freshness of foods. Fresh department managers will be able to use real-time analytics and shopper behavior data to help maintain ideal inventory levels.
“The more time our Associates save in the forecasting and ordering process, the more time they can spend on the floor serving our store guests,” SpartanNash Executive Vice President and General Manager of Corporate Retail Tom Swanson said in the announcement.
Morgan noted that reducing food waste is a “key focus area” of SpartanNash’s Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) efforts.
The company’s strategies to reduce food loss include improved forecasting, procurement, inventory control and food handling, SpartanNash said in its first-ever ESG report, released in March. Food nearing its best-by date gets donated to prevent waste, SpartanNash noted in that report.
The Afresh partnership builds on SpartanNash’s efforts to combat food waste. SpartanNash brought Flashfood, a digital marketplace focused on food waste prevention, to 27 of its retail stores in 2021, and has so far eliminated more than 146,000 pounds of potential food waste through Flashfood, according to the ESG report.
The SpartanNash pilot adds to Afresh’s growing list of grocery partners, which include Albertsons, Cub Foods, WinCo Foods and Heinen’s. Afresh announced a $115 million Series B funding round in early August, noting at the time that it tripled its customer base in 2021.