These High-Tech Sensors Track Exactly How Fresh Our Produce Is So We Stop Wasting Food

BY EILLIE ANZILOTTI – FAST COMPANY –

How often have you gone to a grocery store, picked out what seems to be a fresh pint of blueberries, and opened the refrigerator door the next day to find half of them covered in mold? If your answer is “all the time,” you’re not alone: Those best-by dates that give us such blind confidence in the shelf life of our produce are nothing more than “a soft assurance,” says Peter Mehring, CEO of Zest Labs, a Silicon Valley-based tech company dedicated to preserving produce and grocery product quality along the supply chain. And in addition to frustrating customers, inaccurate sell-by dates result $30 billion of wasted food in the U.S. each year.

Through its new Zest Fresh tool, which was rolled out last fall and is now delivering measurable results, Zest Labs is helping food retailers better identify best-by dates to reduce the food wasted in transit or tossed after rotting unsuspected in fridges. Zest Fresh, Mehring tells Fast Company, uses real-time, sensor-based tracking to consistently monitor the freshness of a product, from time of harvest to when it hits retail shelves. Given that in the U.S. around $165 billion worth of food, or 40% of the total produced, is thrown out into landfills each year–with losses related to inconsistent freshness and sell-by dates accounting for 33% of that–Mehring and the team at Zest Labs saw an opportunity to use tech to cut back on some of that waste.

For retailers and farmers, implementing Zest Fresh technology is simple: All that’s required is installing sensors, which detect temperature, moisture, and location, on the produce pallets assembled in the fields before distribution, and connecting the sensors to the Zest Fresh cloud, which disseminates data to the various players along the supply chain. Most retailers, when they source produce from growers, expect it to arrive from the distribution center with 10 days of freshness remaining. In a series of baseline studies conducted at retailers throughout the country, Mehring found that only 30% of products actually arrived with that target freshness. After installing Zest Fresh technology in the pallets of farmers they source from, the number of products that arrived with 10 days of freshness to spare jumped to over 90%.

The way Zest Fresh is able to deliver on this improvement, Mehring says, is because it’s the first technology to actually develop a reliable freshness metric. Previously, “best-by” dates were determined by a general assumption of freshness, based on product type, distance traveled, and eyeballing. The ZIPR code–which stands for Zest Intelligent Pallet Routing and was developed by Zest Labs to facilitate the Zest Fresh tool–delivers a freshness metric based on the specific conditions of each item, which allows workers along the supply chain to adjust their decisions so the produce at the store is the most fresh. The ZIPR codes are tailored specifically to each product based on their rate of respiration–the process by which produce runs through the supply of sugar keeping them edible once they’re harvested. Cooling slows the respiration rate, which varies widely by type of produce; the ZIPR code accounts for those variations and issues cooling instructions accordingly.

Say you’re a lettuce farmer, and you’re working on getting a harvest to the distribution center. “The problem is, there’s an assumption that all produce harvested on the same day will have the same shelf life,” Mehring says. “That’s historically how sell-by dates are determined.” But in reality, a pallet of lettuce assembled in the early morning and sent immediately to the cooling center will already have a longer shelf life than a round from the same crop that was cut and assembled later in the day and left out in the hot sun for a while before making it into a refrigerator.

For each product, Zest Fresh provides a target ZIPR code that a pallet must hit in order to proceed along the supply chain (the ZIPR code is derived from the data sets tracked through the Zest Fresh cloud, and reflects both the product type and its temperature and exposure to humidity over time). Based on where a pallet’s ZIPR code falls in relation to the target code, Zest Fresh offers an estimate for the days of freshness remaining for each pallet. That estimate is dynamically updated along the supply chain; any time a product is mishandled–say, left out of a cooling facility for too long–the remaining freshness estimate will reflect that. “That allows someone in the distribution center to make an intelligent decision and say, ‘Okay, I expected 10 days of freshness, but this product only has 8 days left–I better send it to the store this afternoon instead of tomorrow,’” Mehring says. “We’re giving people actionable data to take corrective steps.”

Zest Fresh uses a flexible payment model. Retailers and farmers pay Zest Labs 10% of the value of the waste they avoid by using the platform. A recent study from Chainlink Research on the need for achieving consistent quality along the produce supply chain highlighted the ZIPR code and Zest Fresh as the first innovators in the space, and while the technology is still new, Mehring believes there’s room to scale. Zest Fresh uses a flexible payment model–while the retailers and farmers Zest Fresh works with won’t release financials, Mehring says they pay Zest Labs 10% of the value of the waste they avoid by using the platform. Zest Fresh, Mehring says, aims to reduce a retailer’s waste by at least 50%, so the tech company will earn 10% of that, and the retailer will still see a boost to their bottom line and efficiency. Right now, Zest Fresh is mainly working with produce, but the technology can and will scale up to beef, poultry, and seafood distribution chains this year; the technology will track the same temperature and humidity conditions, and adjust the ZIPR scores based on the specific needs of the product.

When it comes to reducing supply-chain and retail food waste in the industry, this data-driven approach, Mehring hopes, will be a game changer. Clarifying and backing up best-by dates could be a significant factor in reducing unnecessary food waste: A report from the nonprofit ReFED found that standardizing food freshness labels could divert as 400,000 tons of food waste annually, and save $4,547 per ton. Doing so, the report added, would also curb emissions by cutting back on unnecessary transit of products that end up in landfill, and save as much as 192 billion gallons of water.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Eillie Anzilotti is an assistant editor for Fast Company’s Ideas section, covering sustainability, social good, and alternative economies. Previously, she wrote for CityLab.

Ecoark Completes Acquisition of 440labs, Adding Leading Enterprise Cloud Solution Developer to its Portfolio

440labs CEO Scott Durgin Will Join Ecoark Subsidiary Zest Labs as Chief Technical Officer

Rogers, AR – May 24, 2017 – Ecoark Holdings, Inc. (“Ecoark”) (OTCQX: EARK), a diversified holding company, today announced that it has completed the acquisition of 440labs, a cloud and mobile software developer, to support its subsidiary, Zest Labs, adding to their leadership in increasing supply chain expertise in an all-stock transaction. The company also announced that 440labs CEO Scott Durgin will join Zest Labs as Chief Technical Officer.

With this acquisition, 440labs will become a wholly-owned subsidiary of Zest Labs. The company will provide development and runtime operations expertise to help expand the depth and breadth of Zest Fresh deployments. 440labs has been a key development partner of Zest Labs for more than four years, contributing its expertise in scalable enterprise cloud solutions and mobile applications.

“After years of collaboration, the acquisition of 440labs was an easy decision for our team as we continue to develop the Zest Fresh solution,” said Peter Mehring, CEO of Zest Labs. “Additionally, having Scott join our team as CTO will be invaluable, as he brings the necessary domain expertise to aid in increasing our supply chain efficiencies.”

At Zest Labs, 440lab’s leadership and engineering teams will augment the company’s development of modern, enterprise-scale solutions that connect to distributed IoT deployments. 440labs blends onshore/offshore resources to optimize development and provide extended runtime operations coverage, which is critical to broad-based deployments. The 440labs name, brands and office locations will not change as a result of the transaction.

“Our team is excited to officially be part of Zest Labs and further strengthen the Zest Fresh solution in the market through our technical expertise,” said Durgin. “Zest Labs is entering into an exciting stage of its growth and 440labs’ technology will help fuel the company as it continues on its successful trajectory.”

About Ecoark Holdings Inc.
Founded in 2011, Ecoark Holdings, Inc. is a diversified holding company focused on delivering long-term shareholder value. The company currently has three wholly-owned subsidiaries: Zest Labs, Pioneer Products and Magnolia Solar. For more information, please visit www.ecoarkusa.com, and follow us on Twitter and LinkedIn.

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: 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, Managing Partner
ICR, Inc.
646-277-1254
John.Mills@icrinc.com

Public Relations:

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

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.

Zest Labs CEO Peter Mehring to Join Panel Discussion at MIT IoT Conference, Connected Things 2017

Expert panel to discuss how businesses will navigate the next era of their industry, or “industry 4.0”, propelled by a global transition from an IT-based economy to an IoT-focused one

Rogers, AR (March 9, 2017) – Zest Labs, 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 announced today that Peter Mehring, CEO, will participate in a panel discussion entitled, “The Future Titans of Industry 4.0: Organizations Rewiring Legacy Industries” at the Connected Things 2017 conference hosted by MIT Enterprise Forum on March 13 in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The panel will take place at 3:10pm ET in the Silverman Skyline room of the MIT Media Lab.

Jenny Fielding, the Managing Director of Techstars IoT and Fintech will moderate the corporates and startups who are on the front line of rewiring traditional industries such as construction, manufacturing, agriculture, and healthcare.

The thesis of the program is the next era of industries or “industry 4.0” propelled by a global transition from an IT-based economy to an IoT-focused one. By 2025, IoT’s yearly economic impact will be more than $10 trillion – the majority of which will be seen in the industrial space. These companies all represent how legacy industries are currently being rewired through the Internet of Things and that the next wave of innovation will hit the largest industries including construction, healthcare, and supply chain.

“I am excited for the opportunity to participate in the discussion on Rewiring Legacy Industries at Connected Things 2017,” said Mehring. “This is a terrific opportunity to showcase the industry leading capabilities of Zest Labs and to share our experiences with respect to introducing new solutions to the post-harvest agriculture industry. While new technology is a key ingredient to enabling improved performance and efficiency, it is just as critical to incorporate current practices and industry knowledge to provide an approachable solution. Introducing new technologies to legacy industries offers significant opportunities, but requires considerable added value to break from the status quo. Zest Labs delivers that value by significantly reducing the 30% post-harvest fresh food waste, while improving fresh food quality consistency.”

Zest Labs’ Zest Fresh™ technology is a breakthrough approach for quality management of post-harvest fresh food that substantially reduces food loss and waste by improving quality consistency. With Zest Fresh™, growers, distributors and retailers improve quality consistency, profitability and sustainability while reducing waste.

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 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.