San Francisco company Afresh aims to stop food waste

San Francisco company Afresh aims to stop food waste

If working for a company that has ambitions to change the world, Afresh’s more than 60 employees have passed the “living dream” stage of development and have gone on to implement the dream.

San Francisco-based company Afresh, ranked third among small businesses on its list of Top Workplaces, is on a mission to “eliminate food waste and make fresh food accessible to all.” It says it is on track to stop 300 million pounds of food waste by the end of 2022.

While food waste occurs along the supply chain, 40% of it occurs at the retail level, which has long been without specific purpose-built technology.

“When you think that a peach could make its way from the San Joaquin Valley to New Jersey, it’s heartbreaking,” said Lois Smith, director of machine learning at Afresh. “It’s a huge waste. A waste of transportation effort, a waste of water, a waste of energy to grow peaches. It is extremely relevant at this time to solve this problem as best you can.”

Afresh is tackling the problem of food waste with its Fresh Operating System, which is designed for inventory, forecasting, ordering and store operations. Ultimately, Afresh aims to increase profits for grocery stores and leverage sustainability in the fresh food supply chain while getting fresh food to consumers. Grocers across the country use the service. The company estimates that this is responsible for 6.9 million pounds of food waste, 140 million gallons of water savings, and a 3.82% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions resulting from the transportation, storage and dispersal of waste food. Their clients include Albertsons, Vinco Foods, Henin Markets and Fresh Thyme Market.

The company has four core values: candor, proactiveness, kindness and humility.

“It’s a really interesting combination because you wouldn’t necessarily think there are these four elements to support a truly happy and productive workplace, but they are,” Smith said. “I’ve never seen a company so firmly behind its core values ​​as Afresh does.”

She also noted how these values, which may not be related to the actual work they do, actually directly affect the work.

“Clarity means you are giving honest feedback; People are not scared,” Smith said. “It’s actually one of my favorite parts about Afresh culture. I don’t fear retaliation for speaking honestly or saying ‘this is an issue’ or ‘potentially we should consider the direction of this product’. The last one, has been taken in progress because of kindness. It’s never an attack. We all want the same thing. We all want this company to be successful.”

Aslan Law, a senior product designer, said he had several job offers but chose Afresh because he really liked the people who interviewed him and thought he wanted to work with them.

“I really enjoyed talking to people. I could feel a friendship. They were very warm, and they were all very passionate about their work.” Law also looks at how this positivity in the culture translates into better productivity. “If you need help and reach out for it, no one will say no, even if they’re really busy,” Law said.

Smith echoed the law’s observation. “People are really happy to lift each other up and support people,” Smith said. “It’s more like ‘Our team did this,’ which is really cool.”

Smith said the success of a company’s values ​​can be measured through the retention of employees, but also through their growth in the market as they add customers and grow their own staffing.

“One message I always repeat when I interview candidates: There’s something really powerful about working for a mission-driven company at the moment. ‘Did you wake up and realize you’re excited about the job? ?’ I’m excited to work at Afresh, and to be honest, it’s a wonderful thing right now in a post-pandemic, post-pandemic world,” Smith said.


Marcus Crowder is a Bay Area freelance writer.

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