Using the Internet of Things to reduce food waste (Huffington Post)

The USDA estimates that more than 30% of all food products in the United States are thrown away, costing the nation more than $161 billion per year.  This is often due to an inefficient supply chain that struggles to keep produce cool, and therefore fresh enough, from farm to store.

The temperature of produce is crucial, with even seemingly minute changes in the rate at which crops are placed in the correct temperature having a significant impact on the shelf-life of the produce.  Not only does this make for a whole lot of food waste, but it also makes it hard for consumers to trust the used by date on the produce itself.

Such challenges have encouraged a number of fascinating projects that aim to try and solve this problem and provide supply chain managers with real-time insights into the produce as it travels from field to store.

To read the entire article from Huffington Post, please click here.

Zest Labs Demonstrates Proactive Fresh Food Management throughout the Supply Chain

Zest Labs combines pallet-level produce monitoring with real-time analytics to provide proactive fresh food management, improving quality consistency and reducing post-harvest food waste

Rogers, AR (March 23, 2017) – Zest Labs Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Ecoark Holdings, Inc. (OTCQX: EARK) and provider of Zest Fresh, a freshness management solution for produce, meats, seafood and dairy recently demonstrated the benefits of a field-to-shelf, proactive freshness management solution, as highlighted by a recent industry white paper discussing available technologies to address the issue.

Historically, post-harvest agriculture operations have been managed by experience and summary reports or audits. Whether due to the very distributed nature of harvesting and processing, or the predominantly manual processing involved, little has been done to collectively monitor each of these processes in real time. While many other industries have adopted real-time process monitoring and feedback to improve quality consistency – such as car manufacturers in the 1980s – this methodology has not yet been adopted in post-harvest agriculture. Zest Labs has shown the benefits of real-time monitoring and feedback for post-harvest processing, through a significant improvement in the quality consistency of delivered product.

A recent article, “Preemptive Freshness Management,” published by Chainlink Research, highlights the benefits of real-time, data driven feedback in managing the fresh food harvest and distribution processes. “Zest Fresh leads the industry in providing preemptive freshness management capabilities for fresh food, addressing core industry challenges with its approach. Zest Fresh offers both the breadth and depth to cover critical processes from the field to the pack house, and through distribution and retail delivery,” stated Bill McBeath, Chief Research Officer at Chainlink Research. As the Chainlink Research article states, empowering the worker in real time is critical to delivering quality consistency, which is a primary contributor to customer satisfaction and avoiding fresh food waste.

Zest Fresh monitors products at the pallet level from harvest through pack house operations, providing real-time feedback that empower workers to maintain best practices. Real-time feedback includes alerts, process specific mobile applications and web dashboards, all of which reflect pallet-level process adherence against product and vendor specific parameters. Zest Fresh feedback includes prescriptive corrective actions that consider many variables including the current product condition and product volume at each process step, processing equipment availability, daily product demand, and required freshness for planned shipments. The knowledge driving the corrective actions, combined with the real-time availability of the information, equip workers to make better tradeoffs, and consistently deliver high quality product.

“Zest Fresh provides an end-to-end solution for managing freshness, using automated data capture and Cloud-based, real-time analytics to enable workers to make the best decisions,” states Peter Mehring, CEO of Zest Labs. “By knowing the condition of each individual pallet, and the current constraints at each process step, Zest Fresh can optimize the trade-offs at key decision points in real-time, making it easy for workers to do the right thing.”

About Zest Labs Inc.

 Zest Labs is a company of passionate problem solvers, addressing the significant challenge of reducing fresh food waste. Zest Fresh is a fresh food management solution that focuses on three primary value propositions – consistent food quality, reduced waste, and improved food safety. Zest Fresh empowers workers with real-time tools and alerts that improve efficiency while driving quality consistency through best practice adherence on every pallet. Zest Fresh drives both business success and environmental sustainability by significantly reducing waste. Zest Labs delivers best-in-class solutions such as Zest Fresh, by addressing the science at the core of the problem, and then provides the tools that make it easy to do “the right thing” every time.

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

About Ecoark Holdings Inc.

Based in Rogers AR and founded in 2011, Ecoark Holdings, Inc. is a growth-oriented company based in the retail and logistics hub of Northwest Arkansas. Ecoark’s portfolio of technology solutions increase operational visibility and improve organizational transparency for a wide range of corporate clients.

Ecoark’s technologies fight waste in Operations, Logistics, and Supply Chains across the evolving global economy. Ecoark’s portfolio of companies and technologies work to integrate people, processes, and data in order to overcome ingrained operational hurdles and create new revenue streams.

Ecoark’s vision is to expose the cycles of waste that reduce efficiency and cost effectiveness across the business landscape. Ecoark’s strategically acquired subsidiaries have anticipated and responded to key economic factors impacting every business today.

Ecoark addresses these vital economic factors through four active subsidiaries, Zest Labs, Eco3d, Pioneer Products, and Magnolia Solar.

For more information, please visit www.ecoarkusa.com.

Forward Looking Statement:

This release contains forward-looking statements, including, without limitation, statements concerning our business and possible or assumed future results of operations and statements relating to our expectations regarding the completion of the proposed registered offering. Our actual results could differ materially from those anticipated in the forward-looking statements for many reasons including: our ability to continue as a going concern; 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. Other factors that may cause such a difference include, without limitation, risks and uncertainties related to market and other conditions, the satisfaction of customary closing conditions related to the proposed registered offering and the impact of general economic, industry or political conditions in the United States or internationally. 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.

Ecoark Takes Steps to Acquire 440labs (Arkansas Democrat Gazette)

Ecoark Holdings Inc., a Rogers company that focuses on reducing waste in operations, logistics and supply chains, is acquiring software development and information solutions provider 440labs.

Ecoark said it has completed a nonbinding term sheet to acquire the Massachusetts company in an all-stock transaction. 440labs has partnered with Zest Labs — an Ecoark subsidiary — for the past four years, providing cloud solutions and mobile applications.

Ecoark Chief Executive Officer Randy May said in a statement that the transaction is consistent with the company’s capital deployment strategy of acquiring “high performing niche businesses.” 440labs’ name, brands and office locations will not change as a result of the transaction.

“440labs is a terrific company with clear leadership in its niche market, strong technical expertise with numerous growth opportunities, and a management team that will thrive as part of Zest Labs,” May said in the statement.

To read more from Arkansas Democrat Gazette, please visit their website.

Ecoark Holdings, Inc. to Acquire 440labs, Cloud and Mobile Software Developer, to Support Zest Labs in Increasing Supply Chain Efficiencies

440labs joins Zest Labs, an Ecoark Holdings subsidiary, providing development and runtime operations expertise, helping expand the depth and breadth of Zest Fresh deployments

Rogers, AR (March 13, 2017) – Ecoark Holdings, Inc. (“Ecoark”)(OTCQX: EARK), today announced that it has completed a non-binding term sheet to acquire 440labs in an all-stock transaction. 440labs is a software development and information solutions provider for cloud, mobile, and IoT applications. 440labs has been a key development partner with Zest Labs for more than four years, contributing its expertise in scalable enterprise cloud solutions and mobile applications.

440labs’ experienced leadership and engineering teams will augment Zest Labs’ development of modern, enterprise scale solutions that robustly connect to distributed IoT deployments. 440labs blends onshore/offshore resources to optimize development and provide extended runtime operations coverage, critical to broad-based deployments.

“We are excited about the opportunity to acquire 440labs, who has been a valued collaborator in the Zest Fresh development,” said Peter Mehring, CEO of Zest Labs. “440labs significantly expands our expertise and enhances development bandwidth.”

“The 440labs acquisition is consistent with our disciplined capital deployment strategy, which results in the acquisition of high performing niche businesses that grow and compound our cash flow,” commented Randy May, CEO of Ecoark Holdings. “440labs is a terrific company with clear leadership in its niche market, strong technical expertise with numerous growth opportunities, and a management team that will thrive as part of Zest Labs.”

The 440labs leadership team, headed by Scott Durgin, will continue to manage its business and global team of professionals. The 440labs name, brands and office locations will not change as a result of the transaction.

Acquisition Financing and Financial Outlook

The acquisition will be funded by an all-stock agreement, which Ecoark plans to issue upon completion of a definitive agreement. The Company expects the transaction to have limited impact on 2017 EPS due to non-cash amortization expense, the extent of which has not yet been determined. The transaction is expected to close prior to the end of this quarter.

About Zest Labs

Zest Labs, a subsidiary of Ecoark Holdings, Inc., provides a growing suite of freshness management solutions that substantially improve quality consistency and drive sustainability for a wide range of clients. Zest Labs provides solutions to modernize the existing food distribution and delivery system by significantly increasing efficiency through continuous condition monitoring and real-time prescriptive analytics.

About Ecoark Holdings Inc.

Based in Rogers AR and founded in 2011, Ecoark Holdings, Inc. is a growth-oriented company based in the retail and logistics hub of Northwest Arkansas. Ecoark’s portfolio of technology solutions increase operational visibility and improve organizational transparency for a wide range of corporate clients.  Ecoark’s technologies fight waste in Operations, Logistics, and Supply Chains across the evolving global economy. Ecoark’s portfolio of companies and technologies work to integrate people, processes, and data in order to overcome ingrained operational hurdles and create new revenue streams.  Ecoark’s vision is to expose the cycles of waste that reduce efficiency and cost effectiveness across the business landscape. Ecoark’s strategically acquired subsidiaries have anticipated and responded to key economic factors impacting every business today. Ecoark addresses these vital economic factors through four active subsidiaries, Zest Labs, Eco3d, Pioneer Products, Magnolia Solar and now 440labs. For more information, please visit http://www.ecoarkusa.com/.

Forward Looking Statement

This release contains forward-looking statements, including, without limitation, statements concerning our business and possible or assumed future results of operations. Our actual results could differ materially from those anticipated in the forward-looking statements for many reasons including: our ability to continue as a going concern; 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.

The Supply Side: Zest Labs ready to push process to improve freshness (Talking Business & Politics)

When it comes to food, fresh is a must for consumers, whether that’s reaching to the back of the dairy case for the latest “sell by date” or scouring the produce looking for what might have the longest window of freshness.

Peter Mehring, CEO of Zest Labs, one of the sustainability companies owned by Rogers-based EcoArk, has spent the past four years testing how its proprietary technology can raise the bar for freshness with supply chain transparency from growers through distribution and into a store.

Mehring said the problem is the misconceptions around freshness which are made by the assumption of a “best use by date” which is assigned to the product. He said this date is a guess at best based on limited information. The missing component from the data is how the product might have been handled or treated in the supply chain.

Zest Labs has worked with produce growers and suppliers for the past four years testing its ZIPR technology which acts as a measure for how the product has been handled and any impact that handling might have on the product’s freshness. He said the company is preparing to launch its technology at retail on a national scale in the coming months, though he would not say which retailers are looking at the product.

The largest grocers in the country — Walmart U.S., Kroger and a H-E-B — have all made “fresh” a major initiative in recent years and they often speak of the positive impact fresh is having on their grocery businesses. The flip side of that is the huge amount of waste associated with trying to deliver fresh products to the consumer.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates $161 billion annually is lost in food waste. Walmart U.S. CEO Greg Foran has said reducing shrink and improving freshness for consumers is a major goal. The retailer lowered sight lines and revamped fresh produce centers in its stores last year. More staff were added to produce departments and each received training on how to handle the produce, rotate and recognize “fresh” based on consistency patterns.

The industry admits only 70% of the products meet the consistency requirements, which creates a 30% loss rate. Mehring said consistency is the primary key used in identifying freshness. But he said indirect benefits such as water reduction, transportation, and cooling times may also have an impact on how long a product stays fresh once it gets to the retailer. The retailers don’t have complete visibility all the way back to the grower and worker who might have picked the produce.

He said Zest Labs freshness metric known as the ZIPR code is based on the specific product type, growing location and harvest and processing conditions that enable improved freshness management decisions. Zest calculates a ZIPR code for each tracked pallet, using patented methodology and sensors, ensuring inventory and shipping decisions are based on actual freshness. Mehring said the technology makes use of Internet of Things (IoT) cloud-based software which can be pushed out to workers in the field on handheld devices or viewed on a laptop or desktop further up the supply chain. Through RFID and Bluetooth technology growers and suppliers using the software can tag an entire pallet of bagged lettuce or crates of strawberries and track freshness through the supply chain. Everything possibly affecting a crop of strawberries can be seen upstream in real time.

The software can notify workers at the grower levels about a potential problem and offer solutions to mitigate any damage to the product’s freshness window. That means there is less waste upstream when the products reach retailers. U.S. testing of the product has shown that using Zest with the ZIPR code can reduce that waste by roughly half, and improve the customer experience, Mehring added.

California growers have been using the technology to monitor their winter crops in Mexico. He said the company owner described the ZIPR technology as “turning on the light.” He said without the visibility of ZIPR it was like working in the dark, but now that they have complete view of the supply chain they can do a better job extending freshness.

Mehring said if a certain batch of berries is handled differently and the fresh window is going to be shorter, they know up the chain to distribute that batch to retailers close by and reduce transportation time.

Retailers like Wal-Mart use a scorecard system that looks at the history of the product, but that system isn’t really helping them detect freshness or expand freshness given that industry-wide wastes are still roughly 30%. Mehring said growers and suppliers testing ZIPR are finding it takes about two to three months to get comfortable with the system, and the cost is about 1 cent per item. He said companies using the technology are finding savings about 10 times over the cost.

When asked about future plans, Mehring said Zest Labs has 65 patents for the technology and 12 others in process. He said it’s been four years in the making, being tested along the way, not just by produce growers but also dairy producers, restaurants, fish distributors and some retail. He expects to see the technology being used more this year and continues to look for those opportunities.

Mehring, a former hardware exec at Apple, said during his work for the late Steve Jobs, Apple insisted on a 99% production yield from its manufacturing line. He said anything less meant people lost their jobs. But in food production a 70% yield has become acceptable.

“We think Zest Labs ZIPR technology can increase that to 90% now, and that’s a big savings for everyone along the supply chain,” Mehring said.