About a year after announcing a partnership with fresh food optimization specialist Afresh Technologies, Albertsons Cos. has rolled out the platform across its nearly 2,300 stores in 34 states.
Albertsons and Afresh implemented the system at more than 2,000 stores in seven months, much faster than the three to five years that large-scale enterprise software deployments normally take in the grocery industry, San Francisco-based Afresh said Thursday. At Albertsons Cos. supermarkets, the artificial intelligence-powered Afresh Fresh Operating System is used to sharpen fresh department operations, helping stores reduce shrink, expedite stock turns for fresher produce and, in turn, lift sales and profits.
Afresh’s platform, designed for supermarket fresh-food sections, supports forecasting, inventory, ordering, merchandising and store operations functions. On its website, San Francisco-based Afresh reported that stores using its system have cut food waste by 25% and out-of-stocks by 80% while hoisting monthly sales by an average of 3%.
The technology also adds two days to post-sale shelf life for fresh food, benefitting both shoppers and Albertsons, Afresh reported. The Boise, Idaho-based grocer, a USDA Food Loss and Waste Champions participant, has said it’s targeting a 50% food waste reduction by 2030. Albertsons also has set science-based targets for carbon reduction, an initiative that will get a boost from having less food waste in its stores and supply chain.
“Driving sustainability practices across Albertsons Cos. is essential to our business and the communities we serve,” Suzanne Long, chief sustainability and transformation officer at Albertsons, said in a statement. “Our partnership with Afresh helps us improve ordering and better manage our inventory of fresh fruits and vegetables so our customers have access to fresher products, and we’re able to make meaningful progress toward achieving our goal to have zero food waste going to landfill by 2030.”
Compared with other supermarket departments, fresh food is “highly dynamic,” often leading to imperfect data, Afresh noted. The company said its platform takes the unique challenges of fresh into account and is designed to bring results, “despite hard-to-predict and error-prone data,” which in turn allows the system to be deployed “in months instead of years.”
“Supply chain and store technology implementations typically require a multiyear transformation and radical overhauls,” according to Afresh CEO and co-founder Matt Schwartz. “Afresh and Albertsons Cos. have partnered to complete the fastest in-store technology rollout in Albertsons Cos.’ history and did so across thousands of stores in just months, helping Albertsons Cos.’ family of stores realize the transformational value in their fresh produce departments now, not years down the line.”
Overall, Albertsons operates 2,270 food and drug stores under 24 banners—such as Albertsons, Safeway, Vons, Jewel-Osco, Shaw’s, Acme, Tom Thumb, Randalls, United Supermarkets, Pavilions, Star Market, Haggen, Carrs, Kings Food Markets and Balducci’s Food Lovers Market—in 34 states and the District of Columbia. Its operations also include 1,720 pharmacies, 402 fuel centers, 22 distribution centers and 19 manufacturing facilities.