How Fresh-first Tech Gives Customers Better Blueberries


Here’s a scenario most grocery shoppers can relate to: Jo stops by the store on the way home from work. It’s her kid’s 5th birthday tomorrow and she promised to make their favorite breakfast: blueberry pancakes. When she walks into her local grocery store, Jo goes straight to the pancake mixes, grabs a box, and heads to the fresh produce department. She’s making a beeline because the store isn’t always well stocked and sometimes what’s available isn’t in great condition. When she gets to the blueberries, Jo finds just a few packages on the shelf. She picks the best-looking container and heads to the checkout, ready to get home and settle in for the evening.

The next morning, Jo gets up early to make the pancakes. Satisfied with her batter, she pulls the blueberries out of the fridge and, to her disappointment, finds everything but the top layer of berries mushy and inedible. There’s no time to run to the store before work, so she regretfully tosses the berries into the trash and sets to making plain pancakes—thankfully there’s at least some syrup in the pantry.

Ordering fresh blueberries is much more difficult than ordering pancakes

The situation may sound dramatic but we’ve all been there. The question is: Why is this still a problem in today’s technology-driven world? Fresh is dynamic and order writers need technology that is, too. But even the most innovative supermarkets use manual processes or ineffective computer-assisted ordering (CAO) systems that rely on perpetual inventory models and automated order fulfillment. Shelf-stable goods are relatively unaffected by the same variables that greatly impact fresh blueberries and this presents a big problem that causes massive amounts of food waste every year.

The life cycle of a blueberry is also very different than a box of pancakes

Blueberries are at their peak the moment they’re picked and, after that, quality begins to diminish. Items like fresh blueberries have a short lifespan and countless factors outside the control of supermarkets play a role in how quickly they go bad. And when demand shifts suddenly, like during a local food-focused event or when a new juicing trend takes hold, order writers have to rely on intuition and manual calculations to restock the shelves. Considering all the variables, it’s no wonder so much food goes to waste.

In the end, the systems most grocery stores use today aren’t flexible enough for fresh. Store teams that rely on CAO systems built for boxes of pancake mix end up ordering too much or too little, creating a cycle of inaccurate orders that lead to bad data, empty shelves, negative customer experiences, and disappointing birthday breakfasts.

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Customers are more dedicated than ever to fresh, healthy food

81% of grocery stores reported an increase in fresh sales over the past year and that trend doesn’t look to be stopping anytime soon. In contrast, many long-time fresh managers are retiring and stores need solutions that can compensate for that loss of essential knowledge. Afresh gives store teams the expertise they need to create perfect truck-to-shelf orders that keep displays stocked with the freshest food possible. Our Fresh Operating System makes writing orders easy, regardless of fresh or tech expertise. Without better solutions, new team members won’t be able to maintain the truly remarkable fresh departments their customers love.

Better tech + better berries = a better future for everyone

At Afresh, our solutions are built to stop the endless cycle of fresh food waste. Retailers are responsible for up to 40% of food waste in the US every year. At the same time, consumers waste up to 21% of the food they buy. This creates an endless cycle of wasted food and resources that impacts how much is produced in the first place; so solving the problem of food waste at the retail level means helping customers waste less, too. 

Our Fresh Operating System is built from the ground up, just like the food that's grown for produce departments. With a fresh-first approach to ordering, customers get produce that lasts longer, grocery stores increase profitability, and our planet takes on less waste. Food shapes our everyday experiences and when grocery stores get better tech, everyone gets better blueberries...and happier birthdays, too.

We’re building a fresher future. Request a demo and we’ll show you how.

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