Fresh4cast has been providing forecasting and planning software for fruit and vegetables for the last ten years. CEO Mihai Ciobanu talks about the journey so far and about the next 10 years.
"Some of the tools we provide are standard, some are customised to reflect specific business logic. The service connects to the ERP, to other internal data sources like retailer programmes, as well as external sources like weather and trade statistics. It then adds business intelligence tools, machine forecast models and a fast planning tool. All these are designed to facilitate data sharing between different teams in the company and speed up critical decision-making processes."
One of Fresh4cast's customers, a leading bagged salads business, just finished an internal review which showed that Fresh4cast reduced their forecast error by an average 10,000 boxes a day compared to their ERP forecast.
"That’s big," says Mihai. "Supply chain shocks like that have costs, some more easily measurable than others. Avoiding those costs helps our customers be more competitive in the marketplace and forecast accuracy is just part of the story. Speed is a huge gain. Being able to do in seconds what takes minutes in other systems, allows our customers to be more agile in their planning. They can take decisions that are both fast and informed.
Mihai said a mid-life crisis and the need to have a higher purpose in his career motivated him to start Fresh4cast.
"I was motivated by the mission to help companies improve their sustainability - both environmental and financial. Food is infrastructure, but it’s a sector too many people take for granted. The challenges here are unique. Whenever we are able to make a difference, that makes us very proud.
"Over the past three years we continued to grow, although not as fast as we did before the pandemic. It was important to remain profitable, so I preferred to be conservative. We took the opportunity to upgrade a lot of our technology, in order to improve our own scalability and growth potential. It’s great to see that the sector is opening up again, so hopefully we’ll be able to place our tools on the screens of more and more teams.
"Today there are significant challenges, with rising costs for energy and inputs, supply chain disruptions, pressure on consumer spend. But companies that do well during the hard times will get a disproportionately bigger share of the market when times are good again. I believe that the sector will reinvent itself over the next 10 years, with radically higher efficiency and predictability. And we will work hard to do our part in that."
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