CORRECTED: WISErg finds bountiful harvest in retail leftovers

04/22/2014 05:25:00 PM
Pamela Riemenschneider

(CORRECTED) In an effort to create less — and do more with — food waste, a Redmond, Wash.-based company offers a system focused on more than just the end product.

WISErg Corp.’s Harvester units combine function with data to help retailers track waste and individual store performance, said chief executive officer Larry LeSueur. The company recently added the Bellevue, Wash., Whole Foods Market Inc. location to their customer lineup.

Simply composting without the analysis leaves opportunities on the table, LeSueur said.

“The problem with it is that we don’t have the data or metrics to understand why and who’s doing it,” he said. “The Harvester allows the user to load it up and process the organic material, but it’s capturing data at the same time.”

The unit looks at information like category, causation, temperature, weight and time of day to analyze a retailer’s processes and practices to help with inventory management and shrink.

“The average grocery store is easily getting rid of $6,000 to $8,000, and some as high as $20,000 to $30,000 a week in avoidable food waste — that’s not the stuff that’s going to the food banks, either,” LeSueur said. “With better data management, that can be eliminated. It’s a bit of a shift in thinking from stores looking at this as a disposal option versus how do we look at saving our inventory from being lost.”

The more data Harvesters capture, the more findings WISErg is able to analyze and improve processes in culling, spoilage and next best inventory.

“Then we also start getting into the ability to compare, as we get more and more retailer locations involved across the specific store chain, we find one location may be more efficient than a different location,” LeSueur says. “We can provide information on which are doing better and let stores decide what best practices may need to be modified.”

Materials collected in the Harvester are ground inside the unit and then processed offsite into liquid fertilizer that can be sold at retail or for larger scale agriculture. The fertilizer can be used for certified organic crops.

The company is based in the Puget Sound area, but plans to expand further in the West Coast area in 2014 and nationwide next year.

Note on correction: Larry LeSueur's name was originally misspelled in the story.



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