Data-drive technology has “almost infinite” potential to cut waste in fresh produce supply chains, says company
Software developer Clarifruit, which specialises in automated quality control for fruit and vegetable supply chains, has raised around US$12m in additional venture capital financing.
The news marks a major step forward in the Israeli startup’s development, and takes the total raised to date by the company to more than US$15m, following a US$2.5m grant from EU programme Horizon 2020.
The latest series A funding round was led by Champel Capital and Firstime Ventures, with additional participants including Kubota, a leading global provider of agricultural machinery and technologies, NevaTeam Partners venture capital fund, and a number of other private investors.
“Since we launched our product 20 months ago, we have been able to make a significant impact and onboard dozens of leading global players into our circle of clients that are now using Clarifruit’s advanced technology to automate their quality control and provide real-time info to reduce waste and maximise revenue opportunities,” said Elad Mardix, co-Founder and CEO of Clarifruit.
“The market potential is almost infinite because all players in the industry, from the world’s largest retail chains to farmers, currently use manual and outdated quality control methods with limited data to base their decision-making.”
He added: “We plan to build a company that will become a global leader and revolutionise how the industry makes decisions. This will significantly improve the productivity of the supply chain and the profitability of all players, as well as contribute to a decrease in the price of fruit and vegetables worldwide.”
Clarifruit was co-founded in 2018 by Avi Schwartzer, who currently serves as the COO and previously served as a senior R&D director at HP.
The other co-founders are Ruby Boyarski, the group’s CTO, who previously served as a VP of R&D for Infomedia; and Mardix, who previously ran JPMorgan’s technology investment banking activities in APAC and the US.
Schwartzer, who managed the world’s leading QA automation product for software at HP, has a family background in agriculture that led him to the idea of combining his expertise in quality assurance in the software world with the world of agriculture.
Clarifruit currently employs 25 people globally. Following the current funding round, Clarifruit said it planned to scale its sales activity globally with local offices across North America, Latin America, and Europe.
It also plans to hire a significant number of employees in R&D to offer the market further AI-based solutions.
Climate for growth
“The emerging climate crisis has increased the demand for solutions to conserve food and resources and provide global food security,” said Jonathan Benartzi, partner at Firstime Ventures. “Clarifruit has developed a technological solution that significantly and directly reduces produce waste and indirectly enables better use of water, soil, and fertiliser resources to benefit all parties.
“Clarifruit’s amazing team has succeeded in creating an economical simple solution, which embodies sustainable and environmental values in an outstanding way. We are happy and proud to partner with Clarifruit.”
Amir Weitmann, managing partner at Champel Capital, echoed that support. “We are proud to sponsor the excellent team at Clarifruit, a company that offers an outstanding technological solution for an industry with a turnover of more than two trillion dollars a year,” he said.
“It’s an industry that, due to manual QC processes, suffers from depreciation levels that are unacceptable in the world we live in. It’s not by chance that the company achieved significant milestones at such an early stage, and we are excited about what the future has in store. As an impact fund, we see the ability to dramatically reduce waste as a noble cause with a significant environmental impact.”
Clarifruit was established with the mission of reducing waste in the US$2tn fresh produce supply chain to secure sufficient food supply for future generations.
According to the company, its solution addresses a key challenge in quality control and decision making – a lack of standardised and objective quality control processes in assessing the quality of fruits and vegetables.
It argues that these problems lead to a waste of 45 per cent of the agricultural production in the industry, representing approximately US$900bn of lost value every year.
How it works
Clarifruit’s AI-powered quality control platform consists of two elements. The first is a mobile app installed on any smartphone that allows quality inspectors to conduct automatic quality control processes in a matter of minutes.
The second is a cloud-based control system that allows operation managers to design and manage a monitoring process specific to their company and to view results, according to the requirements of various potential clients, and actionable insights in real time.
Clarifruit’s automated QC platform, which is based on proprietary computer-vision technology plus big data and analytics capabilities, is designed to empower retailers, wholesalers, marketing companies, and growers to make data-driven business decisions and thus reduce waste and maximise profitability.
Clarifruit’s customers include several of the leading global fresh produce marketers, including Dole, Mucci Farms, Zespri, SanLucar, and Pink Lady.
In recent months, Clarifruit has also started to work with some of the largest global grocery retail chains.