Technology start-up CatsAI is to begin a nationwide roll-out following a pilot which saw it use artificial intelligence (AI) to reduce bakery surplus.

The technology uses 10,000 data points – including the weather, cultural events and school holidays – to predict how much of each product a bakery should produce on any given day. This is collected from EPoS data and the “brain” does the rest. The results are delivered via email and provide a range for each item, allowing bakers to “sanity check” their production schedule and business.

CatsAI hit the scene late last year as it sought five bakery businesses to take part in a pilot scheme. With the trials completed, the company has relaunched its website and is set for a wider roll-out.

“We are now open for business and are looking for a set of trailblazers from the bakery industry to come on board,” CatsAI founder Paul Staples told British Baker.

“At a minimum we’re seeing a 25% reduction in waste, but if they genuinely followed our production numbers on a sale-by-sale basis, you could see a 50-80% reduction. The problem is that bakeries tend to want to over-produce because that’s what they feel confident doing.”

Among the bakeries involved in the trial were Hertfordshire-based family business Dorringtons, Essex-based Mayfield Farm Bakery, Surrey-based Coughlans Bakery and Truffles Bakery in Sussex, as well as a prominent Scottish bakery.

“Here at Dorringtons, we have been working with CatsAI for the last couple of months in conjunction with our main order processing company Dobake. It all looks very promising that we will able to reduce waste, increase sales and save time at head office in overseeing new order entry,” said Caroline Sharples, managing director at Dorringtons.

Family bakeries are particularly benefiting from CatsAI’s technology, according to Staples. This, he said, was due to the latest generation often having careers before joining the industry, unlike their senior counterparts who frequently joined straight from school.

“This is where we have found our niche. We can give years of experience, sales patterns and methodology in a matter of hours to a bakery,” he said.

“We still have a very strong business case around waste, we’re still capturing the lost sales and now we’re finding that we’re helping family bakers bridge the knowledge gap between generations.”