Originally written by Deena Shanker and published on Bloomberg on August 4, 2022.
Afresh Technologies Inc., which makes software that helps grocery stores reduce food waste, raised $115 million in new funding.
The Series B round was led by Spark Capital. Insight Partners and VMG Partners also participated, along with Walter Robb, a senior executive at S2G Ventures and the former co-chief executive officer of Whole Foods Market. With the new investment, the San Francisco-based company’s total funding has reached $148 million.
Afresh offers an operating system that helps grocers reduce the amount of fresh food that is thrown away. Retailers can view their inventory within Afresh’s system and use its technology to more accurately forecast what foods consumers are looking to buy. The predictive system’s reliance on data means stores will produce less waste.
The company has announced partnerships with grocers in more than 3,000 stores across 40 states, including Albertsons and Save Mart. Its target is to work with 10% of US supermarkets by the end of 2022, with the new funding going to fuel that expansion. It will also go toward international growth and expanding the software for use on other categories of food.
Afresh says it helps customers reduce waste by 25% or more. These efforts can help improve profitability, Robb said, which is especially important as food prices continue to surge.
Emily Broad-Leib, director at Harvard University’s Food Law and Policy Clinic said it’s “legitimate to think we can get to zero food waste in grocery stores.” Improved ordering and better use of foods that would otherwise be thrown away are potential solutions, she said.
As much as 40% of the food produced in the U.S. is never eaten, according to the environmental group NRDC. Most of that goes to landfills, generating emissions that contribute to climate change. By some estimates, food waste produces about 8% of all human-causedgreenhouse gases. Homes are the largest source of waste, but supermarkets, restaurants and other businesses also contribute to the problem.