Verizon Enterprise last week launched a marketing campaign highlighting how its 4G LTE technology can be used in the cold supply chain. At Zest Labs, we applaud Verizon’s initiative to bring light to the issue of food safety, as well as the current technical and process challenges that continue to impact humans and our fresh food supply. The issue is so large, that to put it in pure economic terms, the USDA estimates the amount of food loss in the U.S. alone each year totals more than $161B.  And the industry simply accepts these losses as the cost of doing business.

The Verizon campaign astutely kicked off with a commercial about the importance of tracking the temperature of fish from its catch to either the restaurant or retailer. Temperature control of fresh seafood (or any other perishable) is critically important for food safety. In fact, researchers have found that one of the largest challenges associated with food safety and food waste is related to controlling and monitoring the consistency of food temperatures throughout the cold chain.

For the past five years, Zest Labs has been pioneering and piloting cold chain solutions with the understanding that successful initiatives require not only a strong wireless backbone and cost-effective sensors, but purpose-built software and analytics that apply true industry expertise. For successful adoption, the solution must be beneficial to all partners in the cold chain including the fishermen, ranchers and growers, along with the shippers and retailers. Our experience has shown us that if it isn’t, they simply won’t use it.

With both food safety and freshness in mind, we’ve developed Zest Fresh™ as the modern solution that addresses these quality consistency shortcomings. By combining cloud, mobile, cost-effective IoT sensors and item-level monitoring technology that supports real-time analytics, our customers have realized dramatic improvements in the quality consistency of perishable food for both consumers and retailers. Using the industry’s first freshness metric, Zest Fresh takes the Verizon initiative even further by calculating the remaining days of freshness to ensure proper distribution, food safety and that consumers are receiving the quality of food they want and expect.

Zest Labs approaches the cold supply chain challenge with this completeness in mind. We are network neutral and can support whichever technology provides the necessary level of reliability and support at the lowest cost. In addition to having a reliable network such as Verizon’s 4G LTE, it’s absolutely critical to have a solution that evaluates the data captured through the network. Zest Labs not only provides complete track-and-trace capabilities, but extends it to true supply chain transparency. For example, we can tell users the cold chain integrity, critical FDA requirements adherence (i.e. HACCP), and proper process completion – as well as traditional track and trace information – all necessary to provide complete food safety assurance. Zest Fresh also determines remaining shelf life of a pallet of strawberries to enable intelligent routing that ensures delivered freshness and reduced waste – and we can do it for pennies per item. This supply chain transparency is critical for food safety and authenticity and inherent in our Zest Fresh solution.

It’s great to have Verizon shedding some light on this very exciting market. With millions getting sick due to food borne illnesses, and up to 40 percent of America’s food going to waste, we’re going to need to find ways to maximize the freshness and safety of the food we produce. Be it fruits and vegetables, seafood or other proteins, Zest Labs is heads down focused on providing solutions for safer, fresher food that leads to reduced waste.