Walmart faces $2bn lawsuit over use of food waste technology
By Alex Clere - Aug 3rd 2018, 14:39
Walmart is facing a $2 billion lawsuit over technology that tracks the freshness of perishable produce and aims to reduce the amount of wastage in its US stores.
Speaking about its development in March, Walmart’s vice-president for supply chain technology, Parvez Musani, said that the technology – called Eden – had been created “in just six months by our own associates”. At the time, he said that two separate patent applications had been filed, but FoodBev has been unable to find public records of either the applications or any issued patents themselves.
But now the CEO of Zest Labs, a Silicon Valley-based ag-tech company, has said he was “surprised” to find out about Eden, having previously worked alongside Walmart to demonstrate the value of its own technology called Zest Fresh.
“Starting in 2015, Zest Labs engaged with Walmart to demonstrate the value of Zest Fresh to reduce waste and improve delivered shelf-life consistency. During this time, Zest Labs’ proprietary information and trade secrets were shared with Walmart, including members of Walmart’s executive leadership team,” the company wrote in a statement.
Zest Labs developed Zest Fresh as a means to reduce field-to-shelf food waste and improve freshness for consumers. The data and insights provided by Zest Fresh also help growers, food distributors and retailers reduce the $85 billion problem of fresh food waste, the company claimed.
It has filed a lawsuit in Arkansas’ Eastern District Court with a number of complaints – including unfair competition, breach of contract and breach of good faith – and is seeking $2 billion in damages. The claim is equivalent to the value of food waste that Walmart aims to save through the Eden programme over the next five years.
Peter Mehring, CEO of Zest Labs, said: “We were surprised and concerned by how similar Walmart’s Eden description was to Zest Fresh. Like most innovative companies, we believe strongly in the need to protect our intellectual property, recognising the importance of preserving the value for our shareholders and customers."
“Zest Labs challenged long-held beliefs at most retailers by properly identifying the primary contributing factor to pre-consumer waste. We then defined and implemented a breakthrough, proactive approach to managing fresh food from the farm to the shelf, significantly reducing that waste.”
Walmart spokesman Randy Hargrove told Reuters that the company “respects the intellectual property rights of others” and would defend the case in court.
The filing is unrelated to Eden Green Technology, the vertical farming upstart that announced plans to supply produce to the retailer in June.FoodBev
Woolworths announces next phase in plastic bag free trial
24/04/2019 - 11:40
After a six-month trial in four of its Western Cape stores, including the launch of their first plastic bag free store, Woolworths confirms that it will be rolling out its new low-cost, reusable bag to more stores across the country as well as announcing three more ‘plastic shopping bag free’ stores.
Tiger Brands to fight against listeriosis class-action lawsuit
17/04/2019 - 13:02
Tiger Brands says it plans to put up a fight in a class-action lawsuit against the company relating to the deadly listeriosis outbreak of 2018.
Water giants clean up their act in search for alternatives to plastic
16/04/2019 - 14:43
Two of the world’s biggest water companies are thinking outside the bottle about how to hydrate consumers as environmental campaigners take aim at the enormous amount of plastic waste the industry produces.
Winning with sustainability in retail
16/04/2019 - 10:59
While there’s pessimism in the air with regards to global product sales, every day there are also groundbreaking changes being implemented by brands and activists who genuinely want to “be the change” when it comes to sustainability. Influencers and businesses are seeking to establish new markets through innovation, leveraging their ideas and products to help fight climate change.
Pick n Pay to shift plastic bag usage with 20 000 free reusable bags in-stores, every day
09/04/2019 - 14:35
Over the next two weeks, Pick n Pay will give 20 000 customers a free reusable bag every day in stores across the country.