Digital Supply Chain: Fresh Fruits & Vegetables

The luscious flavors of the beautiful farms brought to your plate come at a cost. Obvious costs such as transportation, taxes, nurturing costs, and other supply chain expenditures are unavoidable, yet one exceeds the rest—the global food wastage cost. Estimated to be at around US$ 900 billion each year, these disuse costs hit the food retail industry right where it hurts the most, supply.

This wastage creates a sharp cutback of fruits and vegetable supply, driving demand, sending prices through the roof, and gashing company profits by at least a third. The colossal food wastage every year can be immediately linked to the agriculture industry’s shambolic management and short shelf-life of the fruits and vegetables and the supply chain loopholes.

Digital Supply Chain: Fresh Fruits & Vegetables

The industry stands in dire need of digitization and a monitoring system that orients with the characteristics of fruits and vegetables and brings the best to consumers at affordable prices. In order to truncate, much less stop, the global food wastage, some of the critical digital integrations could be inventory forecasting, data management, and product tracking, among others.

Inventory Forecasting

It is one of the most needed digital headways in the food industry. Inventory forecasting eliminates erroneous decisions while stocking products. It helps you reckon when and how much stock to be ordered from the farms and how long before another.

Using a meld of advanced algorithms, AI, and integrated data systems, inventory forecasting reckons, risk of stock spoilage, slashes overstocking, stock run-outs, to name a few. It transcends the limits of inventory management by going beyond it, thanks to its forecasting abilities.

Data Management

The data management system is a boon for the food industry. It facilitates the ordering process between two firms, boosting transparency, security, easing operations, saving time and money. With Data Management, the owner is well aware of the stock and the company’s capacity to handle orders.

Moreover, the system also keeps a database of detailed historical data of the orders, stocks, transactions, customer’s point of contact, unit costs, etc. When the data management system is paired to live POS (Point-of-Sale) data, it can also help make your supply chain more responsive by continuously updating the latest sales and stock data.

The data systems can play a decisive role in the ordering cycle. Working along with the live POS data, the data systems can save customer data and automate repetitive orders in real-time. It will boost the entire supply chain’s efficiency and cut costs along with restraining food spoilage, usually a result of the delay in order processing and transportation.

Active tracking

The food that you devour passionately goes through a long process with multiple entries and exit points along the supply chain. The active tracking system keeps track and logs in at each stage of the product journey from the fields through the store. It helps stores implement the ‘first in, first out’ rule; this enables the store owners to give the freshest possible product and cut down on food spoilage.

The ability to track products at every stage of the processing enables partners to schedule orders and manage inventory efficiently. Tracking is usually accomplished with the help of blockchain technologies or traceability barcodes. These technologies enable consumers to use barcode scanning apps on their mobile devices and scan the barcode on the product to know more about it.

Here is what automation would look like in the Banana Supply Chain

Banana, usually grown and harvested in Central and South America, can use some help from automation. The data management system can help farmers schedule seeding, nurturing tasks, and harvesting. As the banana is harvested and put on a ship to be transported to the warehouse for ripening, inventory forecasting could play a focal role in tracking elapsed time and automating tasks such as keeping the banana in the deep freeze so as to inhibit ripening. Once the bananas are offloaded at the warehouse, the inventory forecasting can notify operators when to take the bananas on to the trucks and the retail stores. The retail store could also use active tracking systems to be aware of new orders’ shipment and know when to place a new order and how much to restock.

Digital Supply Chain: Fresh Fruits & Vegetables

Digitization and monitoring systems can make the whole process a lot easier and efficient, saving time, money, and food wastage.

Exports and imports of fresh fruits and vegetables

$71 billion. This was the value of fresh fruits and vegetables exported from the USA to the world in 2019. As gigantic it may seem, it was still 3% less than that of 2018. Out of all the exports, 49% (US$3.5 billion) of fruits and vegetables were exported to Canada, followed by the bordering nation of Mexico at 11%. Several other countries that relished US fruits and vegetables accounted for under 6% of total exports. Moreover, in 2019, the US imported about US$ 733,000 worth of citrus fruits from Israel, Jamaica, Spain, China, and Chile.

Canada, too, exported most of its fruits to the US. About a whopping 64.8% of fruit value exports were sent to the US, and Canada imported about $6.37 billion of fresh fruit. The number has been consistently growing over the last 20 years as the US remains the top market for Canada fruit exports.

But is it a smart alternative though, taking the fertile, disorderly agriculture industry digital?

Digitization can afford a whole new farming platform to farmers as opposed to the traditional one. The platform can provide them with valuable insights based on weather forecasts, field characteristics, soil type, and more, which help them seeding the right kind of crops at the right time and taking the right care of it. The digital platform may also assist the otherwise unaware farmers in choosing the right agrochemicals for their crops. A personalized solution for farmers can be a boon and cut produce wastage by about 40%.

Digital Supply Chain: Fresh Fruits & Vegetables

The food demand is ever-increasing. With digitization, the industry can prepare to feed over 1 billion people every year and significantly cut food wastage costs.

Growing Importance of Fresh Produce Traceability

Farm produce is directed to multiple handling and movement, while traceability of this value chain process enables trading partners to follow products as they move from field through to retail store or food service operator. Each partner in the entire value chain must be able to identify the source (direct supplier) and the recipient (direct customer) of the product.The main task of implementing tracking and traceability solutions is to provide the consumer faster and more precise identification of the implicated product. This becomes even more critical if the product must be withdrawn from the supply chain, due to any quality reasons, or inflicted with bacteria or disease that could cause public outbreak, for instance E.coli or Salmonella in Onions.

Usually, the best practice to implement traceability solutions in the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable (Produce) Industry, are based on global standards for both efficient supply chain management and real-time product identification. These standards are developed by industry to optimize the business practices across supply chains world-wide.

What are the possible scope of this fresh produce traceability solutions:

■ Applied to the fresh fruit and vegetables sector, meant for human consumption.

■ Tracking of the produce and best practices from grower to retail store or food service operator including external traceability.

■ Applicable to all levels of product, cartons, shipping containers, including pallets, cases and consumer items.

Digital Supply Chain: Fresh Fruits & Vegetables

Many countries implement such schemes, through their respective Governments’, as legislation,and certifications are to be jointly addressed by the Horticulture and Agriculture department. The need for the same is ever growing to match the exports and imports of fresh produce globally, even more so for developed countries like the UK, the USA and Canada becoming tighter on the grounds of transparency and accountability of the source of origin.

About SourceTrace

SourceTrace is a SaaS (Software As A Service) company that focuses on sustainable agriculture and empowerment of farmers.

SourceTrace's advanced technology platform DATAGREEN provides comprehensive solutions to manage all aspects of the agricultural value chain.

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