Hy-Vee is testing Zest Fresh, a technology designed to calculate and communicate the freshness of produce items as they move through the supply chain.
Data gathered include temperature, time from cut to cool, time in the packinghouse, time in transit, humidity and more, according to Zest Labs.
The company expects its product to have several benefits for retailers as well as for others in the supply chain.
“When the retailer receives the product at the store, they’ll know the remaining shelf life to ensure freshness on display and for the consumer,” said Peter Mehring, president and CEO of Zest Labs. “This means that they no longer have to rely on inaccurate techniques such as pulping or visual inspections.
“Second, retailers get automated visibility into their supply chain,” Mehring said. “One issue retailers are facing today is the status of deliveries. Zest Fresh can tell them the status of shipments as they move from the supplier to the distribution center and advise if they’re on schedule and if they’re complete or partials. This enables proactive planning.”
The information captured can also inform decisions earlier in the supply chain.
“At the distribution center for example, pallets with fewer days of remaining shelf life can be routed to nearer locations and pallets with longer remaining shelf life can be routed to further destinations or held for later consumption,” Mehring said. “We call this ‘First Expired, First Out’ inventory management, which is far better than the traditional ‘First In, First Out’ method that doesn’t take shelf life into account.”
Seedless Holiday grapes are the item involved in the Hy-Vee test, according to a news release.
“We are excited to work with Zest Labs to determine how Zest Fresh can help both monitor and improve freshness while providing complete traceability through the cold supply chain,” John Griesenbrock, vice president of Hy-Vee produce and Health Markets, said in the release. “With traceability support, we will become even more invested in bringing the freshest and highest quality produce to our customers.”