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Path to Food Waste Elimination

Around 4% of the US’s greenhouse gas emissions are brought about by food waste – significantly accelerating the climate crisis. To tackle this, firms have ideated different methods to minimize waste in the production chain, as well as transform any leftover food into sellable products. AI has played an important role in these efforts.

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Freshflow is simply one startup that uses AI to assist retailers in re-stocking. Currently, many groceries still manually re-stock goods by rough estimates, using previous experience and manual calculations. This is due to factors such as perishability and seasonality, which add multiple layers of complexity to inventory systems. Thus, retailers will often either over-order fresh products, generating much excess supply which eventually goes to waste, or under-order, losing out on potential sales.

With Freshflow, retailers feed information including sales data, ordering data, product details, and weather predictions to forecast demand and support a just-in-time inventory system. Alongside this, shelf lives are predicted via statistical analysis, which helps strike a balance between reduced food waste and bolstered revenue. In fact, Freshflow is so accurate that the mean error of its outputs is less than one! Another unique aspect of Freshflow is its quick integration into retailers’ current ERP systems; changes can be made immediately, not just in the long term. From just using an iPad app, Freshflow can provide suggestions of how much to restock each product. Humans can also override the AI if desired.

Freshflow is already being used in Germany’s largest supermarkets. As more data is fed into the system and error calculations are output, Freshflow’s reinforcement learning algorithms will help it develop further. In the future, Freshflow hopes to extend its service beyond supermarkets and to warehouses and farmers, automating the supply chain to enhance efficiency, productivity and, most importantly, alleviate food waste!