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Exclusive: Ecoark Looks To Tackle The $160 Billion Food Waste Problem

Brett Hershman

The fresh food supply chain undergoes a ton of waste. The loss in fresh food nearly costs producers and retailers $160 billion in the US alone. Despite this huge sum, the market to cut down this waste has largely gone unaddressed by corporate America.

Ecoark Holdings Inc (OTC: EARK) is taking steps to address this market and it could ultimately be a win for several parties: the grower, the retailer and the consumer. The biggest challenge around fresh food supply is the amount of waste in the supply chain.

To address this problem, Ecoark acquired technology company Intelleflex for $2.5 million. Through this acquisition, the company has developed proprietary cloud-based software called ZEST Fresh to address the problem of waste in the food supply chain.

"What makes our solution unique is that we don't lose visibility throughout the supply chain at pallet level. No one else is doing that," said Ecoark CEO Randy May in an exclusive interview with Benzinga.

"We use sensor based tag technology at pallet level and then we use predictive analytics in the software to actually predict failure or will predict whenever the product will fail which allows the customer to make intelligent decisions," said May.

Ecoark is raising $80 million to support the retail strategy deployment of of ZEST Fresh.

How Does It Work?

"We take our proprietary tag. We drop it into a pallet at the point of harvest. For example, in fresh vegetables they harvest in the field. So what we do is we just simply drop the tag in a pallet and we monitor that all the way through the supply chain. So we monitor from field, through pre cool, through the distribution channel. We actually predict what's the best outcome from that product," May added.

The goal is to maximize the shelf life of the product and eliminate waste. The technology can take in all the environmental factors, humidity, conditions, and through its algorithm can accurately predict how many days of freshness the product has.

Addressing such a large market and with very little competition in this space, utilizing cloud-based technology throughout the supply chain is undoubtedly the future of the food industry, Eliminating waste is something we can all get behind.

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