Tuesday, December 6, 2022

Adelaide agtech Optomni raises $200,000 in Seed round to tackle food waste

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South Australian agtech startup Optomni has raised $200,000 in a Seed Round led by Skalata Ventures to optimize the fresh food supply chain.

Founder and CEO Murad Mekhtiev said that about 45% of Australia’s total fruit and vegetable production is wasted and nearly half of it is in the supply chain.

Optomni aims to reduce supply chain losses by 25%, saving 500,000 tons of landfill food annually, worth an estimated $400 million

“There is a misconception that food waste only occurs in households that neglect their fruit bowl, or in supermarkets,” Mekhtiev said.

“But in reality 20% of the product is lost before it even hits the shelves, with the main factor being the mismatch between supply and demand.”

Optomni’s AI-powered wholesale and optimization platform helps growers and wholesalers reduce waste through demand forecasting and automated supply matching.

“In agriculture, you never have full control over the supply side because you have to account for disturbances such as weather conditions,” Mekhtiev said.

“But with AI, you can make more accurate predictions around supply — and have a clear picture of demand — to tailor it to the right specs.”

The startup has already secured early traction and has signed a group of growers as early adopters of its OmniOrder platform.

Mekhtiev’s ambition now is to attract the 15,000 Australian growers and 1,500 wholesalers to the platform to benefit from reduced waste and streamlined inventory management, fulfillment and ordering processes. Optomni is an enabler rather than a “disruptive revolution”.

“We need to focus on making technology really easy for primary producers to implement, and make sure it can run efficiently in the background instead of just being ‘tech for tech’,” he said.

Skalata Investment Manager Tom Smalley is inspired by Optomni’s passion to revitalize the industry.

“Agriculture is in Australia’s DNA. We have a huge opportunity to become the world leader in greener, more efficient and more advanced agriculture,” he said.

“The key to unlocking that value is not to produce more, but to waste less. Optomni will help us do that.”

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