South Australian Agtech startup, Optomni, is stepping up its efforts to tackle Australia's fresh produce waste problem, after raising its first 'Seed Round' funding from Skalata Ventures.
In Australia, total fruit and vegetable waste is approximately 45 per cent – and nearly half of it occurs in the supply chain. Founder and CEO Murad Mekhtiev says Optomni aims to reduce supply chain losses by 25 per cent, saving half a million tonnes of food from landfill at an estimated value of $400 million per year.
"There’s a misconception that food wastage only happens in households neglecting their fruit bowls or in supermarkets," he said. "But in reality, 20% of produce is lost before it even hits the shelves with a major factor being massive supply/demand mismatches."
Photo: Optomni co-founders, Sabina Zeynalova and Murad Mekhtiev.
Optomni’s AI-driven wholesale trading and optimisation platform OmniOrder® helps growers and wholesalers reduce waste through demand prediction and automated supply matching.
“In agriculture, you can’t ever fully control the supply side because you have to account for disruptors like weather events," Mr Mekhtiev said. "But with AI, you can more accurately make predictions around supply – and have a clear picture of demand – to dramatically reduce that waste and match it up based on the right specifications.”
Optomni has already secured early traction, signing a group of growers as early adopters to its OmniOrder® platform. Mr Mekhtiev says he has his eyes on 15,000 Australian growers and 1,500 wholesalers who will not only benefit from reduced wastage but streamlined inventory management, fulfilment, and ordering processes. Entering a very traditional industry, he considers Optomni an enabler rather than a 'disruptive revolution'.
“We need to focus on making technology really easy for primary producers to implement, and ensure it can operate efficiently in the background rather than it just being ‘tech for tech’s sake'," he said.
Skalata Investment Manager Tom Smalley is inspired by Optomni’s passion to reinvigorate the sector.
“Agriculture is in Australia’s DNA. We have a huge opportunity to become world leaders in greener, more efficient, more advanced farming," Mr Smalley said. "The key to unlocking that value is not producing more but wasting less. Optomni will help us achieve that.”