Retail giant Walmart has publicly unveiled Eden, a high-tech “Intelligent Food” system whose aim is to improve the quality and flow of fresh produce from farm to shelf, while eliminating waste from the supply chain.
Eden is the result of the construction of a digital library of food standards, through the collation of USDA product specifications, Walmart’s own standards and more than a million photos to create a “freshness algorithm”.
“With that database of a million photos – and growing – we can use machine learning to identify good or bad produce,” wrote Parvez Musani, VP of engineering-supply chain technology at Walmart Labs.
Over the past year, the system has been quietly rolled out to 43 of Walmart’s grocery distribution centres and other facilities.
Eden’s suite of apps helps Walmart employees to better monitor produce that is awaiting shipment from distribution centre to store, enabling more efficient ripening, more accurate shelf-life forecasting and a better flow of produce from storage to shelf.
“Our goal was to figure out the best way to keep track of food freshness all the way from the farms to our stores,” wrote Musani.
Thanks to Eden’s ‘freshness algorithms’ and other advanced technologies, Walmart now has the ability to monitor the temperature and freshness of produce from farm to shelf; improve visual inspections at its distribution centres; dynamically route produce to the nearest store, and from back of store to shelf to optimise freshness; and capture data and insights all the way through the supply chain.
Eden also helps eliminate food waste, according to Musani. “Our goal is to eliminate US$2bn in waste over the next five years,” he wrote. “Already, Eden is being used in 43 distribution centres and has prevented US$86m in waste.”