Eden, the new technological ecosystem developed by Walmart, allows for dynamic reorganisation of the transport flows of fruit and vegetables to Walmart stores according to their freshness. Here’s how.

The American mass retail giant presented Eden on March 1,2018. This new technological ecosystem aims to better monitor the freshness of fruits and vegetables so that they arrive as fresh as possible in stores. Objective: to limit food waste.

Walmart stores

A Freshness Algorithm

The project was born out of an internal hackathon to find the best way to monitor the freshness of perishable foods throughout their journey from their production area to Walmart’s warehouses.
The winning team felt that the most effective method was to develop an algorithm to determine the freshness of products in order to dynamically reorganize their transport to the nearest Walmart stores. The device is based on a database that gathers food product specifications from the U. S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), Walmart’s own standards and over a million photos.

Sensors on Each Pallet

Interviewed by the specialist magazine Supermarket News, Parvez Musani, in charge of supply chain engineering at Walmart Labs, explains that distribution center operators can now trade manual processes for a mobile-based approach. The control of the freshness level of foodstuffs is now carried out by taking pictures and annotations in a smartphone. “With this database, we can use machine learning techniques to identify good and bad products,”he says.

In addition to the learning machine, the Eden ecosystem is also based on sensors deployed on pallets, which make it possible to determine the level of freshness much more accurately thanks to information on the place of production of the foodstuffs, the climate on site, etc.”For example, two pallets arriving in the same truck on the same day can actually have two different levels of freshness and a different shelf life. Perhaps one of these two pallets was in the sun, or an hour in the sun is equivalent to one day of conservation less,”explains Parvez Musani.

Reduce Food Waste By $2 Billion

Walmart claims that Eden is now the cornerstone of its approach to improving the quality of fresh produce for its customers. From a prototype born from a hackathon, the device has indeed become a large-scale project. It is now deployed in 43 Walmart distribution centres and would have already enabled the N°1 distributor to avoid $86 million worth of food waste, out of the $2 billion set for the next five years.