New Artificial Intelligence (AI) driven technology is optimising the supply chain for fresh and perishable products to deliver benefits to Australian growers and wholesalers. A new digital platform, developed by South Australian start-up Optomni promises to reduce waste by up to 25 percent, maximising revenue and reducing the impact on the environment.
The wholesale trading and supply chain optimisation platform from Optomni uses AI to help growers and wholesalers manage inventory and reduce losses through demand prediction and automated matching of supply.
Sabina Zeynalova and Murad Mekhtiev
OmniOrder® means users can track orders, inventory and market trends, based on supply and demand, weather patterns, socio-economic data and public information.
Optomni co-founder and product marketing manager, Sabina Zeynalova said it fills a gap in the market.
“We knew some of the largest companies in retail and wholesale food distribution were investing in AI to optimise their supply chains,” she said. “However, upstream in the fresh produce supply chain, there was none of that being done.”
Benefits throughout the supply chain
The digital platform combines app-based trading with face-to-face trading, using one system to manage both – it provides for inventory traceability and is unique, cost-saving and autonomous.
OmniOrder® has also been designed to integrate with other systems like accounting, ERPs, packhouse systems, graders, and retailer systems – fitting in seamlessly into a grower or wholesaler’s workflow. The software can also be pre-loaded with historical data to make forecasts more accurate.
Optomni Chief Executive Officer and co-founder, Murad Mekhtiev said the AI-based demand forecasting gives growers and wholesalers greater visibility of the factors influencing the supply chain.
“Suppliers can access a forward view of demand giving them a better understanding of the relationship between volume and price, as well as factors like weather, consumer trends, and events like public holidays,” he said.
“They can then make supply decisions to match that – those could be which markets to supply, what grade or specification to market to specific buyers, when to pick, or even for some lines with short growing cycles, what and how much to grow.”
Murad said this is a game-changer, enabling demand-driven agriculture to take more control to get the best price and minimise losses.
Optomni Industry Advisor Daniel Hoffman is also a second-generation vegetable grower and said having access to timely information is invaluable.
“Growers can see significant losses or poor returns due to market rejections or not being able to match supply with demand,” Daniel said. “Having timely, accurate market forecasts means growers won’t be forced to accept just any price – they’ll be able to take opportunities to source new buyers or negotiate fair prices for produce.”
This market-changing startup is now seeking to engage with producers and wholesalers with a turnover of between $10-$50 million to participate in commercial beta field trials.
Interested producers and wholesales, or industry groups, solution providers and research partners can express their interest in these trials via AgriFutures growAG.
Benefits for the environment too
Optomni offers increased efficiency within the supply chain on the one hand, and saves time on the other – simply by allowing growers and wholesalers to track and monitor all their information on one platform.
All that is required to get started is two years’ worth of transactional data, then it’s all systems go to forecast and optimise not only revenue, but also costs, food waste minimisation and which markets to target in advance. But without that data, customers can use OmniOrder® to digitalise and automate their order and inventory management capturing the data required and to unlock efficiency gains and starts.
As part of the platform there’s also the option to gift away excess inventory to charities such as FoodBank and OzHarvest.
It’s estimated that a quarter of all the food Australia produces goes to waste, costing our economy more than $36 billion per year.
Optomni said its platform has the potential to reduce supply chain losses by 25 per cent, preventing around half a million tonnes of fresh food, worth $400 million, from going to waste annually in Australia. There’s also the benefit of a one million metric tonne reduction in CO2 emissions from saving the food from landfill.
The product is currently available to Australian growers and wholesalers but Optomni plans to expand to capture international markets in the next 18 months.