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30 Fabulous Companies of the Year 2021

Miku Jha, AgShift Founder and CEO: ‘We are an AI based food technology company working on designing the world’s most advanced autonomous food inspection system’

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In recent times, the quality of food and agricultural produce inspection has become very labor-intensive and difficult. People’s expectation of high quality and safety standards for food products has created a need for objective, fast, and accurate quality assessment. However, these operations at the global level are still done manually, which has proven to be a costly affair for the food producers. Involvement of humans in quality assessment is not advisable as it can be inconsistent, slow, and subjective. People are now using machine vision as an automated, cost-effective, and non-destructive alternate for its human counterpart to overcome these issues.

Speed of automated food assessment is a technique well-known for its speed and accuracy to satisfy the ever-growing demand for high-quality food products. Globally, there are various innovators providing excellent solutions for food assessment, but AgShift stands out from the rest. AgShift is the leading AI automation platform for food quality assessment - enabling better, faster, and objective quality assessment at scale compared to current manual processes - improving the operational efficiencies of the food supply chain and significantly reducing the food waste across the supply chain. AgShift’s main motto is to apply advanced innovations in computer vision, AI, and IoT - to automate food quality assessment on selected commodities. Today food quality assessment is a tedious, manual, and error-prone process which leads to significant food waste across the supply chain.

In conversation with Miku Jha, Founder and CEO of AgShift

Q. How has the pandemic changed the food industry and how has it explicitly impacted AgShift?

In the ongoing COVID-19 crisis, organizations are operating at 25% of their capacity – not having enough manual labor to do quality inspections. The bottleneck is not the demand or the supply but rather the manual dependency to inspect food which is attributing to food waste across the supply chain. Organizations also have to reduce the number of samples inspected to fulfill the need for food in the current crisis, which is creating immense pressure across the supply chain with suboptimal quality. In the aftermath of the current COVID-19 crisis – it has become imperative for our customers to invest in automation and digitization of quality assessment processes to augment the current manual processes to mitigate the projected future impact of the COVID-19 crisis. The crisis has created a sense of urgency across our customer base to invest in technology and automation to be better prepared for the future. It has shortened the adoption curve for our solutions. The need to automate many of the manual, tedious and error-prone tasks – is now expedited for organizations in the food supply chain. The key stakeholders and decision-makers are now actively looking to invest in automation technologies to be better prepared for the future.

Q. How is AgShift’s offering different from other solutions in food quality grading?

AgShift is the leading AI automation platform for food quality assessment - enabling better, faster, and objective quality assessment at scale compared to current manual processes - improving the operational efficiencies of the food supply chain and significantly reducing the food waste across the supply chain. Some of the key differentiators of our overall offering are:

Unique business value:

AgShift is the world’s first “Quality-management-system-in-a-box” solution for industrial automation of quality assessment. The only turn-key solution for food supply chain organization – to dynamically configure the quality acceptance criteria as per the business metric. Organizations can improve the quality metrics, significantly increase the sample size and do better product mixes for higher margins.

Businesses can do better, faster and more objective quality assessments on increased samples with higher throughput and digitized audit trail.

Unique AI technology:

Highly scalable, Proprietary Auto-ML framework:thesiliconreview-image-agshift-21

  • Requires low investment from AgShift to support a new commodity
  • Requires low investment from customers to annotate their data. As they annotate more data, model keeps on improving with auto-feedback loop
  • Solution can support all commodities for all types of visual defects

Unique data repository:

AgShift’s problem statement is similar to clinical AI (Health care, medical imaging) Food organizations that do not have any existing repository for quality data. Food quality data is difficult to obtain. No other open-source data or standardization exists in the industry as it applies to food quality data. AgShift is the only organization to have clean, curated, annotated data sets across several high-value, high-margin commodities.

Q. Tell us in brief about the new products you are planning to launch this year?

Our current focus is on automating food quality inspection across two categories of food: Fresh produce and edible nuts. Our current portfolio of supported commodities includes Strawberries and Almonds. We are working on expanding our automation services to commodities such as Baby carrots, Raspberries, Blackberries, and other high-value commodities.

Q. Would you tell us about being recognized as a Red Herring Company?

Recognition from Red Herring was important for us. The food industry operates differently, so we still have our work cut out for us in terms of building the education and adoption curve for market adoption. Being one of the top companies in North America has helped us to create this awareness in the right forums.

Q. Are you seeking funding, partnerships or investors as you move forward?

Yes, we are currently in fundraising mode. We are working on raising additional funds to scale our product offering to other sensitive commodities where consistency in quality assessment is crucial from a food waste perspective, such as blueberries and strawberries. We are already fully commercialized on almonds. New funds will help us rapidly expand into other commodities.

“Now every organization can have fast, consistent and objective quality control – resulting in lower recalls and reduced food waste across the supply chain.”