Walmart has designed and started using a new platform to track produce freshness.
The system — “Eden” — is based on an algorithm that considers U.S. Department of Agriculture standards, Walmart specifications and more than a million photos, according to a news release. The retailer has filed two patents related to Eden and is already using the system in 43 distribution centers.
Parvez Musani, vice president of supply chain technology for Walmart, described how the company has been using the system.
“Eden’s suite of apps helps Walmart associates better monitor and care for fresh fruits and vegetables that are waiting to be shipped from distribution centers to stores,” Musani said in the release. “That could mean more efficiently ripening bananas, predicting the shelf life of tomatoes while they’re still on the vine, or prioritizing the flow of green grocery items from the back of the store to the shelf.”
Ideally, the technology could be useful even once a shipment of produce has left a distribution center. Musani gave the example of bananas, a top-selling item.
“What happens to those bananas if temperatures in the container trucks exceed acceptable ranges? In the future, Eden will be able to recalculate the freshness factor and re-route the shipment immediately,” Musani said in the release. “The bananas end up in a closer store to optimize freshness, consumers take home a delicious bunch, and everyone is happy.”
The system also contributes to Walmart’s goal of eliminating $2 billion in waste in the next five years. Using Eden in distribution centers thus far has prevented $86 million in waste, according to the company.