Geek of the Week: Matt Schwartz, CEO at Afresh

Nothing is worse than seeing good food go to waste. Watching rotting food being thrown out means that the potential for that food to offer nutrition for someone was lost. Matt Schwartz looked at rotting food and, in it, saw an opportunity to change the way Americans think about fresh food. Using his innovative thinking to approach the problem, matt and his compatriots created Afresh, A startup that utilizes artificial intelligence technology to figure out how much fresh food a grocery ought to stock.

Afresh states that its goal is to develop a more efficient method of managing food supply chains. The grocery industry has been slow to adopt new technology to increase its efficiency. Afresh offers a simple system that helps groceries plan in advance based on previous demand and trends from data collected from other areas. Using artificial intelligence, Afresh aims to give groceries a way to keep fresh food for as little time as possible, reducing their losses due to food going bad as well as the amount of food waste the grocery industry produces. According to Matt, the stores that utilize Afresh have cut their green food waste by as much as 50%.

Matt’s history doesn’t intersect with the grocery industry until he realized that he could be a force for change. Graduating with his MBA from the Stanford University Graduate School of Business in 2017, he immediately saw the need for a way to manage food waste and jumped on that potential. Supported by other co-founders of Afresh Volodymyr Kuleshov and Nathan Fenner, they decided to take a stand against the massive amount of fresh food waste produced by the country’s grocery stores daily.

The three founders shadowed local groceries to do research, allowing them to understand the problem intimately. That research allowed them to produce a unique application that helped those stores manage their fresh food inventory. The idea is Matt’s brainchild. Matt is a vegetarian, and fresh food availability affects him directly. He states that the dynamic nature of fresh food makes it exceedingly difficult to manage. Matt’s no stranger to managing a business either. While he was getting his MBA, he was running a small snack food brand called Statfoods and had previously worked at Simple Mills, an all-natural baking company.

Matt’s dream was to utilize AI to process the massive amount of data from multiple grocery stores within the area. Humans, he says, might miss things that computers can easily pick up on. By using input from the grocery as well as other things such as customer feedback, it can offer insights to help supermarkets be more efficient with their fresh food stock. Mat hopes that the system will be able to offer even better insights in the future, by including weather reports within growing areas to help advise the AI on availability. As most US groceries tend to throw out as much as 8% of their overall fresh food on average per year, Afresh offers a solution that grocery store owners should consider investing in.