Afresh, the first artificial intelligence-powered fresh food optimization platform for grocers, announced on Thursday that grocery industry veteran James McCann, CEO of Food Retail Ventures and former CEO of Ahold USA, has joined as a new member of its Board of Directors.
The company also announced that it has raised $13 million in new funding led by Food Retail Ventures and joined by existing investors Innovation Endeavors, Maersk Growth, and Baseline Ventures.
“I believe that the fresh ordering technology that Afresh has pioneered is set to become one of the most important technologies in food retail,” said McCann (left). “The improvements to freshness, sales, shrink, labor and, as a consequence, profitability, are truly transformational and every grocery store around the world — large and small — should be using Afresh. I’m thrilled to increase my backing of the team and look forward to working closely with them as they continue to grow.”
McCann resigned as CEO of Ahold USA in 2016 to focus on investing in up-and-coming grocery, food tech and consumer goods companies. In addition to Afresh, he is also on the board of last-mile logistics and delivery company Deliv.
Afresh has seen tremendous growth over the past year, according to the company. Several major customers have added and expanded their use of Afresh, and the company’s employee size doubled from 2019 to 2020 and will double again in 2021. The company will be expanding the product across more Fresh functions in the coming months, and will eventually support critical functions across supply chain, store operations, and merchandising for all fresh categories.
According to Afresh’s own research, on average, stores using the platform reduce food waste by 25% or more. They also see 2-4% top line revenue growth and have a 40% or more increase to their produce operating margin. Each produce team member who uses Afresh saves 1-2 hours per week or more, according to the research, which gives them more time to help customers and merchandise fresh produce.
“We headed into 2020 with some incredible momentum from early customer partnerships and validation of our technology. As pandemic set in earlier this year, we were proud of how well our product helped fresh departments adapt during these unpredictable times,” said Matt Schwartz, CEO and co-founder of Afresh. “In addition, we’re seeing enormous demand from new customers. So, when industry veterans and inside tech investors came to us and asked if they could double-down on Afresh, we quickly said yes. This new capital will enable us to grow faster and bigger in 2021, thereby accelerating our mission of reducing food waste while making fresh, nutritious food accessible to all.”