Walmart is testing a new system to better manage fruit supply

by Talk Business & Politics staff ([email protected]) 115 views 

Walmart is partnering with Israel-based Agristask, a crop supply chain company, to test the effectiveness of artificial intelligence (AI) technology in sourcing fresh fruit such as blackberries and cherries.

Agritask’s remote sensing and data analytics tools can help sourcing managers at Walmart make better decisions on seasonal fruit crop yields. Walmart said the Insights will include immediate alerts on emerging or forming risks and their potential impact on target crops, real-time assessment of timing, delays, or advances in expected harvest, and updated indications on meeting yield targets throughout the growing season.

“Dealing with challenges in purchasing and planning accuracy in agriculture due to data discrepancies and environmental uncertainties can be tough,” said Kyle Carlyle, vice president of sourcing innovation and surety of supply at Walmart. “Agritask’s technology has the potential to fill vital information gaps that sourcing managers often face when predicting yield.”

Walmart said it’s a unique initiative aimed at sourcing the freshest product while reducing food waste. The retail giant said it may consider using Agritask at scale for a second fruit crop season based on the test results.

Walmart is testing the technology in the U.S. and Mexico to provide real-time info on seasonal blackberry and cherry crops from select Walmart suppliers. The fruit crops were selected for the test because of their sensitivity to temperature fluctuations and moisture levels that can affect their growth, quality, transport and shelf life.

This test is in addition to RFID (radio frequency identification) tracking Walmart has used in its fresh produce supply chain since 2017 with several different companies.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates $161 billion annually is lost in food waste. Walmart said reducing food waste within its business is part of its mission to become a regenerative company. Some of Walmart’s large suppliers such as General Mills, Starbucks and Nestle are also using Agritask to better manage their crop supply chains, Agritask noted.