Zest Labs is Working with a Leading Retailer, Distributor and Multiple Growers Related to Programs for Improving Delivered Freshness and Operational Efficiencies

SAN JOSE, Calif. – June 13, 2018 – Ecoark Holdings, Inc. (“Ecoark”), to be renamed Zest TechnologiesTM, (OTCQX: ZEST), an AgTech company focused on solutions that reduce food waste and improve product margins, is providing an update on recent business developments for its Zest Labs™ subsidiary.

“Zest Labs is seeing increased traction and interest in its solutions from the retail grocery and the produce grower, processor and distribution industries,” said Peter Mehring, CEO and President of Zest Labs, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Ecoark. “The grocery retail market is fundamentally changing with the combination of increased pricing pressure on fresh foods from discounters, increased expense in e-commerce support, and increased costs associated with freight delivery. These industry trends put a squeeze on fresh product margin, and fresh products are critical to grocery retailers as they drive customer traffic. Zest Fresh has been recognized as a proven approach to improve fresh product margin by reducing shrink in distribution and retail, while improving shelf-life consistency for consumers.”

Zest Labs recently began early phase implementations of Zest Fresh with a national retailer and a national distributor, each with two suppliers, to show how operational savings can be quickly realized from coast to coast. Mehring continued, “Waste in retail groceries is nothing new, but with the increased margin pressure it can no longer be tolerated. We are experiencing a significant increase in interest as the industry has become aware that Zest Fresh delivers real savings.” Zest Labs is continuing discussions with these companies for expanding coverage to additional products. Initial revenue from these programs will be recognized in First Quarter Fiscal 2019.

Zest Labs also continues to gain traction with growers and processors, as the benefits of improving operational efficiency are recognized. In June, two new sites were added for a national grower, with additional deployment work scheduled. “To maximize effectiveness for retailers, Zest Fresh is used to capture data from the field through processing and distribution. Delivering real value to growers and processors is critical to broad adoption and use. Zest Fresh has proven value for growers and processors, ensuring reliable data capture and operational insights for both food safety and freshness management.

Zest Labs continues to work with previously announced growers and retailers, each recognizing the delivered value and exploring broader use of Zest Fresh.

“We’re excited by the progress of the Zest Labs’ Zest Fresh solution in the marketplace,” said Randy May, Chairman of the Board and CEO of Ecoark Holdings. “Leading retailers, distributors and growers are increasingly recognizing the value we provide them with our autonomous, end-to-end cold chain visibility solutions for proactive decision making that improve delivered freshness and reduce shrink by 50 percent or more.”

About Ecoark Holdings, Inc. and Zest Labs

Ecoark Holdings, Inc. dba Zest Technologies (OTCQX: ZEST) is focused on improving the agriculture and supply chain industries through innovative AgTech solutions for growers, processors, restaurants and retail grocers. Through its Zest Labs subsidiary, the company offers a suite of proven solutions that address the $161 billion fresh food waste problem, and provide true transparency for the fresh produce, meat and seafood supply chains. Zest Labs’ flagship solution, Zest Fresh, provides autonomous, field-to-shelf visibility for proactive decision making to improve delivered freshness and reduce shrink by 50% or more. Integrated blockchain technology provides true transparency for food safety, product freshness and traceability. Zest Fresh improves product margins and increases customer satisfaction and brand loyalty while promoting sustainability. To learn more about Zest Labs, please click here. To watch a video about Zest Fresh, please click here.

Forward Looking Statements

This release contains forward-looking statements, including, without limitation, statements concerning the business and possible or assumed future results of operations of Zest Labs; and statements concerning the ability of Zest Labs’ technology to improve delivered quality consistency, significantly reduce perishable food waste, drive sustainability, and increase efficiency in the industry. Our actual results could differ materially from those anticipated in the forward-looking statements for many reasons including: access to growth capital on favorable terms; adverse economic changes affecting markets we serve; competition in our markets and industry segments; our timing and the profitability of entering new markets; greater than expected costs, customer acceptance of our products or difficulties related to our integration of the businesses we may acquire; and other risks and uncertainties as may be detailed from time to time in our public announcements and SEC filings. Although we believe the expectations reflected in the forward-looking statements are reasonable, they relate only to events as of the date on which the statements are made, and our future results, levels of activity, performance or achievements may not meet these expectations. We do not intend to update any of the forward-looking statements after the date of this document to conform these statements to actual results or to changes in our expectations, except as required by law.

 

Contacts

Investor Relations:

John Mills

ICR

646-277-1254

John.Mills@icrinc.com

 

Public Relations:

Greg Wood

Zeno Group for Zest Labs

650-801-7958

Greg.Wood@zenogroup.com

Ecoark Holdings Provides Update on Divestiture of Non-core Assets, Management and Board of Director Changes

Rogers, AR – May 17, 2018 – Ecoark Holdings, Inc. (“Ecoark”), to be renamed Zest Technologies, Inc., (OTCQX: ZEST), today announced it has entered into letters of intent for the sale of the key assets of Sable Polymer Solutions, LLC, as well as the sale of its Pioneer Products subsidiary. The sale of these assets is part of the Company’s previously stated corporate strategy to divest all non-core holdings as the Company moves toward a sole focus on Zest Labs, an AgTech company. Ecoark expects to complete these transactions in its second fiscal quarter (prior to September 30, 2018) and will use all proceeds towards growth capital for Zest Labs.

The Company also announced it has reduced the size of its Board of Directors to six members and accepted the resignations of Susan Chambers and Terrence Mathews effective May 11, 2018.  Ecoark is grateful for the contributions, insight and guidance provided by these industry leaders and wishes them the best in their future endeavors.

To accommodate his desire to launch a private equity fund, the Company also announced today that its Chief Financial Officer, Jay Puchir, has resigned effective May 11, 2018. Mr. Puchir has agreed to stay on in an advisory role for six months to help with the transition.  Mr. Puchir has made significant contributions and been instrumental in Ecoark’s fund raising efforts since he joined the company in December 2016.

About Ecoark Holdings, Inc.

Ecoark Holdings, Inc., to be renamed Zest Technologies, Inc., (OTCQX: ZEST) is focused on improving the agriculture and supply chain industries through AgTech solutions for growers, processors, ranchers, restaurants and retail grocers. The Company offers a suite of proven solutions that address the $161 billion fresh food waste problem, improve delivered freshness, and provide true transparency for the fresh produce, meat and seafood supply chains. To learn more about Zest Labs, please click here. To watch a video about Zest Fresh, please click here.

Forward Looking Statement

This release contains forward-looking statements, including, without limitation, statements concerning the business and possible or assumed future results of operations of Zest Labs; and statements concerning the ability of Zest Labs’ technology to improve delivered quality consistency, significantly reduce perishable food waste, drive sustainability, and increase efficiency in the industry. Our actual results could differ materially from those anticipated in the forward-looking statements for many reasons including: access to growth capital on favorable terms; adverse economic changes affecting markets we serve; competition in our markets and industry segments; our timing and the profitability of entering new markets; greater than expected costs, customer acceptance of our products or difficulties related to our integration of the businesses we may acquire; and other risks and uncertainties as may be detailed from time to time in our public announcements and SEC filings. Although we believe the expectations reflected in the forward-looking statements are reasonable, they relate only to events as of the date on which the statements are made, and our future results, levels of activity, performance or achievements may not meet these expectations. We do not intend to update any of the forward-looking statements after the date of this document to conform these statements to actual results or to changes in our expectations, except as required by law.

 

Contacts:
Investor Relations:
John Mills
ICR
646-277-1254
John.Mills@icrinc.com

Public Relations:
Keith Watson
fama PR
617-986-5001
ecoark@famapr.com

Supermarket News and Zest Labs Webinar: Three Ways Grocers Can Improve Fresh Food Product Margins and Reduce Shrink

Attendees will Learn How Visibility into the Fresh Food Supply Chain Prevents Shrink While Increasing Margins by Six Percent or More

San Jose, Calif. – May 1, 2018 – Zest Labs, an AgTech company modernizing the post-harvest fresh food supply chain, today announced that it will be featured on a webinar with Supermarket News to discuss how grocers can reduce fresh food waste and improve product margins by six percent or more while increasing customer satisfaction. Zest Labs is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Ecoark Holdings, Inc. (OTCQX: ZEST), to be renamed Zest Technologies, Inc.

The retail grocery business has never been tougher. Retailers are being hit from all sides with new low-price competitors, dramatic increases in freight costs, and customers increasing demands for visibility and accountability about the freshness and authenticity of the fresh food they buy. The result: product margins are being squeezed and grocers are trying to contain costs.

Webinar attendees will learn:

  • • Why traditional approaches to fresh food management lead to waste and reduced product margins
  • • The role of new technologies including blockchain, IoT and analytics in cutting costs
  • • Three ways to quickly reduce fresh food shrink and improve the bottom line

Who: Peter Mehring, CEO, Zest Labs

Alan Liddle, data and event content director, Supermarket News

What: “Margins Matter – Don’t Get Squeezed”

When: Thursday, May 24, 2018 at 2:00 pm ET/11am PT

Register: http://bit.ly/MarginsMatter

About Zest Labs

Zest Labs is an AgTech company modernizing the post-harvest fresh food supply chain to improve food safety and reduce food waste by 50% or more. Our flagship solution, Zest Fresh, provides autonomous, field-to-shelf visibility for proactive decision making to improve delivered freshness and reduce shrink. Integrated blockchain technology provides true transparency for food safety, product freshness and traceability. Zest Fresh improves product margins and increases customer satisfaction and brand loyalty while promoting sustainability.

To learn more about Zest Labs, please click here. To watch a video about Zest Fresh, please click here.

Contact:

Keith Watson

fama PR

617-986-5001

zest@famapr.com

Western Precooling Selects Zest Labs to Optimize Receiving Process Efficiency

Leading Fresh Produce Precooling Company to Use Zest Fresh to Promote Optimal Produce Freshness and Adherence to Processes

San Jose, Calif. – April 24, 2018 – Zest Labs, an AgTech company modernizing the post-harvest fresh food supply chain, today announced that Western Precooling, a leading provider of precooling services and equipment to produce shippers for the western U.S., has selected the company’s Zest Fresh solution to help optimize operational efficiency. With Zest Fresh, Western Precooling will fine tune the productivity of its field harvest receiving process at two locations and improve operational efficiency with the goal of delivering the best service to the customer and for the product. Zest Labs is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Ecoark Holdings, Inc. (OTCQX: ZEST).

Western Precooling helps growers and shippers deliver fresh produce from the field to their customers, operating over 100 sites throughout the primary growing regions in the western U.S. The company has developed and implemented best-practice processes for precooling and shipping of fresh produce, and currently provides precooling services to leading growers of strawberries, lettuce and other produce throughout California, Arizona and other western states. With Zest Fresh, Western Precooling aims to ensure that its receiving process is being followed and, if issues occur, its staff can proactively take action and update processes as needed. Zest Fresh uses IoT condition sensors, cloud-based analytics and machine learning to collect data from operations, evaluate it and identify areas where operations can be further enhanced.

“Zest Fresh provides us with the data we need to ensure our procedures are being followed, providing visibility into specific operational efficiencies, and helping us optimize our services,” said Craig Miller of Western Precooling. “Having operational visibility for both local and remote operations provides our team with the tools and information they need for effective decision making.”

To maximize freshness and shelf-life, it is vitally important that produce is chilled to the appropriate temperature, typically around 34 degrees Fahrenheit. When produce is harvested, it is at the field temperature, which can vary widely based on the location of the field, weather and time of day. Once produce is harvested and moved to a cooling facility, a variety of techniques are applied to “pre-cool” the produce and quickly reduce the temperature to the desired goal to reduce the respiration rate and aging of the produce, leading to longer shelf-life for retail distribution and the consumer. Using the Zest Fresh solution helps growers and commercial coolers to proactively respond to impacting variables, such as delays in getting the product from the field to the pack house, prioritizing for pre-cooler availability, and pre-cooler optimization based on product conditions.

“Zest Labs is excited to be working with Western Precooling to provide them with data and strategies to create the most efficient operational processes,” said Peter Mehring, CEO of Zest

Labs. “Zest Fresh collects and analyzes data during their receiving process to provide insights for strategic decision making for process adherence and improvements.

About Zest Labs

Zest Labs, a subsidiary of Ecoark Holdings, Inc., to be renamed Zest Technologies™ (OTCQX: ZEST) is an AgTech company modernizing the post-harvest fresh food supply chain to improve food safety and reduce food waste. Our flagship solution, Zest Fresh, provides autonomous, field-to-shelf visibility for proactive decision making to improve delivered freshness and reduce shrink by 50% or more. Integrated blockchain technology provides true transparency for food safety, product freshness and traceability. Zest Fresh improves product margins and increases customer satisfaction and brand loyalty while promoting sustainability.

To learn more about Zest Labs, please click here and follow us on LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook. To watch a video about Zest Fresh, please click here.

Forward Looking Statements This release contains forward-looking statements, including, without limitation, statements concerning the business and possible or assumed future results of operations of Zest Labs; and statements concerning the ability of Zest Labs’ technology to improve delivered quality consistency, significantly reduce perishable food waste, drive sustainability, and increase efficiency in the industry. Our actual results could differ materially from those anticipated in the forward-looking statements for many reasons including: access to growth capital on favorable terms; adverse economic changes affecting markets we serve; competition in our markets and industry segments; our timing and the profitability of entering new markets; greater than expected costs, customer acceptance of our products or difficulties related to our integration of the businesses we may acquire; and other risks and uncertainties as may be detailed from time to time in our public announcements and SEC filings. Although we believe the expectations reflected in the forward-looking statements are reasonable, they relate only to events as of the date on which the statements are made, and our future results, levels of activity, performance or achievements may not meet these expectations. We do not intend to update any of the forward-looking statements after the date of this document to conform these statements to actual results or to changes in our expectations, except as required by law.

Investor Relations:
ICR
John Mills
646-277-1254
John.Mills@icrinc.com

Public Relations:
fama PR
Keith Watson
617-986-5001
zest@famapr.com

Blockchain technology could bring visibility, efficiency and security

BY STORES CONTRIBUTOR ON APRIL 3, 2018

Blockchain remains an obscure concept to many, but experts say the technology could have big implications for grocers and retailers that carry food products by enabling them to better trace the origins of items and more quickly handle recalls. From farms and processing facilities to the shelves of grocery stores, experts say a blockchain-based system could create a reliable and trusted network to share information about food products.

While retailers are continually finding ways to reduce risk and optimize supply chains, food products can be especially challenging because of their perishable nature and potential hazards. The fact that farmers, processors, manufacturers, shipping companies and distributors often use their own reporting systems only adds to the complexity. Even in today’s era of the Internet of Things, cloud-based technology and real-time reporting, it can be difficult for retailers to precisely track the origins of food products.

Data from the Stericycle Recall Index indicates that food product recalls have risen over the past five years, skyrocketing 93 percent since 2012.

That is a big problem, considering that food can be dangerous when it is not handled properly in transit. According to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, food-borne pathogens such as E. coli, listeria or salmonella are responsible for 48 million illnesses, 128,000 hospitalizations and 3,000 deaths annually. And because contamination or mishandling can occur at any point in the supply chain, it can often be difficult to trace the source.

Data from the Stericycle Recall Index indicates that food product recalls have risen over the past five years, skyrocketing 93 percent since 2012. A survey by the Grocery Manufacturers Association found more than half of companies surveyed were impacted by a food recall in the five years prior.

Peter Mehring, CEO of Zest Labs, says while the United States has a “very trusted” food supply chain, certain parts have less reliable information than others. Seafood has been one area of concern; it can also be challenging to confirm the validity of organic and locally grown products. Even among big brands, seasonal outsourcing of cultivation or manufacturing can lead to inconsistencies.

“Getting product-level visibility is the ultimate goal, but we don’t know many retailers that are getting that today. There are some inconsistencies and overlapping data,” Mehring says. “And while they have trusted partners, you don’t know how reliable that is from day to day.”

‘An immutable record’

Regulators and those in the industry have been working on improving food safety and visibility. The FDA Food Safety Modernization Act of 2011 aimed to shift the focus from response to prevention of food-borne illnesses. It implemented several rules that called for accredited third-party certification, new manufacturing practices, supplier verification programs and higher standards for growing, harvesting and packaging produce.

Experts and industry insiders say blockchain could be a valid infrastructure to support many of those capabilities. Blockchain technology was initially developed to support Bitcoin cryptocurrency but Chris Burruss, president of the Blockchain in Transport Alliance, says there’s a big difference between the two. While regulators and authoritative bodies question the legitimacy of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, the underlying blockchain infrastructure is widely accepted to have beneficial applications in many industries.

“The original blockchain was developed for Bitcoin to have an immutable record of all the transactions,” Burruss says. “It’s really just the system for tracking it, but it’s very effective.”

Unlike traditional centralized systems controlled by one party, blockchain’s “distributed ledger” system stores data in a shared database synchronized across a network hosted at multiple sites by a variety of institutions that constantly verify and update records in the chain. Experts say the combination of transparency and redundancy makes tampering extremely difficult.

Blockchain is a “reliable, trustworthy and secure” way to store and present data, Mehring says. Zest Labs uses the technology on its Zest Fresh platform to create an added layer of trust and security throughout the supply chain.

“Blockchain is a nice technology that we leverage for building a standard interaction for retailers. It’s more important to them than growers and farmers because the further you go down the supply chain, the less trusted the information is,” Mehring says.

Blockchain can take data on an operational basis and in real time, and incorporates the food safety concept of “hazard analysis critical control points” so stakeholders proactively know the food has passed all required tests. In a perfect deployment, blockchain can offer a permanent, tamper-proof record of a product’s entire journey and touchpoints through its entire lifespan, from farm to table.

Zest Labs produced a white paper with ChainLink about blockchain’s role in the produce supply chain. It found that the detailed traceability can offer stronger assurance of origin and chain of custody, faster and more precise recalls, fresher food with less waste and fewer contamination incidents.

The FDA Food Safety Modernization Act of 2011 implemented several rules that called for accredited third-party certification, new manufacturing practices, supplier verification programs and higher standards for growing, harvesting and packaging produce.

The road to adoption

Blockchain is still in its infancy, and it could be at least a few years before widescale adoption in the food supply chain. For such a system to work there will need to be industry-wide collaboration and acceptance of data standards and formats. Blockchain-based technology will also have to be easy for participants to integrate into their own systems, Mehring says.

That could take some time, as executives in many industries still don’t understand the technology or approach it with skepticism. A recent survey by Deloitte found that 39 percent of senior executives have little or no knowledge about blockchain. “It is fair to say that industry is still confused to a degree about the potential for blockchain. … about a third consider the technology overhyped,” says Deloitte Managing Director David Schatsky.

Some large stakeholders are already piloting and testing blockchain programs. In August 2017, Walmart, Nestlé, Kroger, Tyson Foods, Dole and several other consumer product companies worked with IBM to integrate blockchain into their supply chains. (STORES previously wrote about blockchain and food safety in the February/March issue.) Laurence Haziot, global managing director and general manager of consumer industries at IBM, says much as the internet has changed retail in profound ways, so too will blockchain, and even more so in food.

The biggest impact blockchain will make is in reducing what Haziot calls the “multiplicity of information” that comes from fragmented systems throughout the supply chain.

“If you want to trace back, you have to deal with data coming from so many systems. It is completely fragmented today,” Haziot says. “Blockchain could offer one indisputable version of the truth.”

IBM also recently worked with Walmart and ecommerce company JD.com in China to show how blockchain could work in a broad-based food safety system. One test followed a package of mangoes through the entire system to the store shelf, and from there they tried to trace it back to its origin. While the old system took six days and 18 hours to trace a product to a particular farm, the blockchain-based system identified the journey and origin in just over two seconds.

“Think about that in a scenario that could be life-threatening,” Haziot says. “If you can trace it back very quickly [and identify]the name of the source, you can save a lot of lives or reduce illnesses.”

A ‘trusted environment’

Blockchain can significantly improve visibility, safety and compliance because it creates a fully “trusted environment” for data, Haziot says. In the blockchain, records are organized chronologically into “blocks” that are then tied together. Records can be accessed by private keys for the owner of that record and with public keys by participants with whom they want to share information. The system is intended to enable the user to have full control of the data while allowing participants to gain access to trusted information and the state of the food for their transactions.

“It’s a huge database that can be safely shared among a huge number of people. They can put in all of their data but only share what they want to,” Haziot says.

IBM is continually seeking new ways in which blockchain can benefit food systems. It has since introduced one of the first fully integrated, enterprise-grade production blockchain platforms for organizations to quickly activate their own networks. The IBM Blockchain Platform is available via the IBM Cloud and builds off the success of work with more than 400 organizations. The platform operates through an open source collaboration in the Hyperledger community and allows multiple parties to jointly develop, govern and operate their own secure blockchain.

Frank Yiannas, vice president of food safety at Walmart, says blockchain technology enables a “new era” of end-to-end transparency in the global food system that will further promote responsible actions and behaviors. “It also allows all participants to share information rapidly and with confidence across a strong trusted network,” Yiannas says. “This is critical to ensuring that the global food system remains safe for all.”

Blockchain’s detailed traceability can offer stronger assurance of origin and chain of custody, faster and more precise recalls, fresher food with less waste and fewer contamination incidents.

Aside from security and visibility, there are many other use cases for blockchain in food supply. It could improve transportation and make it more efficient through “smart contracts,” Burruss says. These smart transactions could initiate when milestones are reached or a product reaches a certain point in the supply chain. That could create an automated system that could verify checkpoints and milestones, giving retailers more insight and security about the supply chain.

“Every event that happens with that truck is right there and out there for everyone to see,” Burruss says. “That can include temperature, provenance, detention time, delivery. It’s all being recorded for everyone and eliminates questions.”

To fuel more widespread adoption, Haziot says it will need to be cost-effective for all parties to join the network. There will also need to be seamless onboarding with software that takes only a minimal amount of internal effort for participants to put their data on the network. IBM is currently working on these issues, Haziot says.
“Retailers will need to take the lead in requiring it,” Mehring says. “Growers feel like they’re usually getting squeezed the most on margin, on the cost of product, and they’re only going to do what’s [minimally]required.”

Craig Guillot is based in New Orleans and writes about retail, real estate, business and personal finance. Read more of his work at www.craigdguillot.com.