Sixteen percent of produce in the North American supply chain is lost to shrink, according to the United Nations. Los Gatos, Calif.-based FoodLink hopes its newest product can help reduce that number.
Chief marketing officer Kevin Brooks said FoodLink Fresh correlates quality data with product shrink to identify optimal quality levels and reduce food waste.
Brooks said FoodLink Fresh is a food quality app for mobile devices that allows data to be logged at various points in the supply chain, including post-harvest, transport and at receiving to provide accurate information about product quality and estimated shelf life before it is delivered to retail stores.
The Web-based tool can be used on any mobile device with WiFi or cellular data access. The product provides retailers with automated alerts to potential quality concerns and also provides analytics from quality inspections results.
Perhaps most important, Brooks said FoodLink Fresh identifies sources of quality issues.
“If stores early in in the distribution route are getting better produce than stores later in route, what’s happening?” he said. “If product quality is high when it leaves the cooler, and something happens between the cooler and store, this gives you more data about what’s going on.”
Brooks said the tool features reference photos of products at different stages of quality to ensure standardized ratings for a wide range of products.
“Every retailer uses a different scale,” Brooks said. “This provides better information and consistent ratings.”
Brooks said FoodLink conducted a pilot with a major retailer in November and December, covering 60 stores in four regions with favorable results.