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If working for a company that has ambitions to change the world is a dream, then more than 60 Afresh employees have gone through the evolution of “living the dream” and moved on to realizing the dream.

San Francisco Company Fresh, ranked third among small businesses on the Best Jobs list, aims to “eliminate food waste and make fresh food available to everyone.” It says the company aims to prevent 300 million pounds of food waste by the end of 2022.

While food waste occurs throughout the supply chain, 40% of it occurs at the retail stage, where special technologies have long been lacking.

“It’s heartbreaking when you think a peach can get to New Jersey from the San Joaquin Valley and then get thrown away,” said Lois Smith, director of machine learning at Afresh. “This is a huge loss. A waste of transportation effort, a waste of water, a waste of energy to grow a peach. Now it is super urgent to solve this problem in the best possible way.”

Afresh is addressing the problem of food waste with its Fresh operating system, which is designed for inventory, forecasting, ordering and in-store operations. Ultimately, Afresh aims to increase grocery store profits by offering fresher products to consumers and contributing to the sustainability of the entire fresh food supply chain. Merchants across the country use this service. The company estimates that it is responsible for preventing 6.9 million pounds of food waste, conserving 140 million gallons of water, and reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 3.82% from the transport, storage and disposal of food waste. Their clients include Albertson’s, WinCo Foods, Heinen’s Markets and Fresh Thyme Market.

The company has four core values: frankness, initiative, kindness and humility.

“It’s a really interesting combination because you don’t necessarily think these are the four ingredients that make for a really happy and productive job, but they are,” Smith said. “I’ve never seen a company uphold its core values ​​as strongly as Afresh does.”

She also noted how these values, which may not be related to the actual work they do, actually directly influence the work.

“Sincerity means you give honest feedback; people are not afraid,” Smith said. “It’s actually one of my favorite parts of the Afresh culture. I don’t fear retribution for speaking honestly or raising flags by saying “this is a problem” or “maybe we should consider this product line”. It is taken in stride because of the latter, kindness. It’s never an attack. We all want the same thing. We all want this company to be successful.”

Aslan Low, senior product designer, said he had several job offers but chose Afresh because he really liked the people who interviewed him and thought he would like to work with them.

“I really enjoyed interacting with people. I could feel friendliness. They were very warm and they were all very passionate about the work they were doing.” Lo also sees how this positivity in the culture leads to higher productivity. “If you need help and you ask for it, no one will refuse, even if they are very busy,” Lo said.

Smith echoed Lo’s remark. “People are more than happy that they really support each other and support people,” Smith said. “It’s more like ‘our team did it’ which is really nice.”

Smith said the success of the company’s values ​​can be measured by employee retention as well as their growth in the market as they add customers and grow their staff.

“The one message I always repeat when I interview candidates is that there is something really powerful about working at a mission-driven company these days. “Are you awake and you feel like you enjoy your job?” I am very excited to be working at Afresh and honestly, this is an amazing thing to find right now in a pandemic, post-pandemic world.” Smith said.


Marcus Crowder is a freelance writer based in the San Francisco Bay Area.

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