A maker of software to reduce food waste at grocery stores.

Food & Beverage
$7.8 million

U.S. retailers throw out $18 billion worth of spoiled food each year. Most of the eight million tons of food that end up in landfills annually are the quick-to-spoil items: fruits, vegetables, meat, fish, dairy, bread. Matt Schwartz saw that as an opportunity. In 2016, he founded Afresh, a startup that uses technology to help stores figure out just how much produce to order for their shelves. Grocery store staffers input their inventory each day, and the company's machine learning algorithms calculate how much of each product they should order and when. The goal is to reduce spoilage while also ensuring that the store stocks enough supply to meet demand. The company is refining more advanced insights to take into account, for instance, recent weather conditions where a certain product grows and how that's likely to affect sales. Many of the stores participating in the startup's pilot have cut their fresh food waste in half--which translates to serious savings. "The future of food is fresh," Schwartz says, "and I think the world would really be better off if it were more accessible, fresher, and less wasteful." --Kevin J. Ryan