Walmart is facing a $2 billion lawsuit by US tech startup Zest Labs that claims Walmart's Eden technology intended to preserve fresh produce for longer was stolen from the Silicon Valley company.
The lawsuit filed by Zest Labs and its parent company Ecoark Holdings Ltd. claims Eden "looks, sounds and functions" like its own Zest Fresh technology.
Zest said it had worked with Walmart for years on Zest Fresh before the retailer lost interest last November. The company said it was "stunned" in March when Walmart claimed to have developed Eden internally over six months through a "hackathon" among its own engineers, and that it had prevented $86 million of waste so far, according to a CNBC news report.
"In reality, Walmart used its years of unfettered access to the plaintiffs' trade secrets, proprietary information, and know-how to steal the Zest Fresh technology and misappropriate it for Walmart's own benefit," stated the lawsuit.
Zest Labs developed Zest Fresh to reduce significantly field to shelf food waste while improving delivered freshness to consumers. The data and insights provided by Zest Fresh also help growers, food distributors and retailers reduce the $85 billion problem of fresh food waste.
Peter Mehring, CEO of Zest Labs stated in a press release "we were surprised and concerned by how similar Walmart’s Eden description was to Zest Fresh. Like most innovative companies, we believe strongly in the need to protect our intellectual property, recognizing the importance of preserving the value for our shareholders and customers. Zest Labs challenged long held beliefs at most retailers by properly identifying the primary contributing factor to pre-consumer waste. We then defined and implemented a breakthrough, proactive approach to managing fresh food from the farm to the shelf, significantly reducing that waste.”