Read to learn about the agri-food sectoral overview and what we think is trending technology examples in the Agri-Food Supply Chain.
Technology can bring change in a flinch – systems, markets, human behavior, and many other things change with the advent of new technology. Likewise, as we speak, technology is transforming the agricultural industry globally. Food traceability leads the change by helping farmers, organizations, and consumers by making the agriculture supply chain more efficient. In 2019 the agri-food industry now a $20 billion venture worldwide and is estimated to grow by at least ten-fold in the subsequent decade.
Various sub sectors have led to this change of how agriculture has become an early adopter of innovative technological solutions. We keep a keen eye on allied commodities and here are a few areas where value chain traceability has taken off big time:
Cannabis has many medicinal usages, and the medical professionals who use cannabis are well aware of the rules and regulations that scrutinize every aspect of the legal marijuana practices. Dispensaries commonly referred to as Medical Marijuana Centers, sell legal cannabis, and cannabis products, in both the USA and Canada to responsible adults in compliance with local regulations ensuring the seed-to- sale traceability.
The person who owns a licensed compassionate use medical card , and a prescription that entails medical conditions that qualify for a medical cannabis recommendation including Cancer,Epilepsy, Glaucoma, HIV, AIDS, ALS, Parkinson’s , multiple sclerosis, can only receive the prescribed dosage.
Blockchain Traceability is ostensibly implemented in medical-weed. For instance, Metrc, a Florida-based cannabis traceability company has contracts for 14 states in the USA to track-and-trace cannabis. While in Canada, TruTrace Technologies (Vancouver, BC), has developed and launched a pilot program in 2020 to trace the medical-marijuana program of one of the country’s leading pharmacy chains using hyperledger blockchain solutions.
Innovative technologies such as seed to sale traceability automation help them stand up to this stringent scrutiny as all the data can be collected, stored, and managed systematically. Since institutes or laboratories that use cannabis as medicine often undergo frequent audits, automation is also used to track the funds and transactions.
The Coffee trade is complicated when it comes to factors like ethical labor, safe farming practices, grading the compounds, and sorting high quality flavorful beans. Many international retailers have adopted Sustainable Coffee Growers from either their home country or rented single-origin farmlands in coffee growing regions like Ethiopian Roast.
Once the coffee beans are harvested they make several stops, including at cooperatives, roasters, blenders, shippers, exporters, importers, distributors, and retailers before they finally reach the mug. Each participant in the provenance uses a complex system, or just basic metrics to track and log data restricted to their own segment of that journey. Hence the information we have is quite fragmented.
Undoubtedly, traceability platforms play a vital role from coffee pod to brew. Such digital platforms enable companies that make the supply chain more efficient on both ends – from farm to retail. The traceability platform enables growers to collect valuable insights about the farm and the supply chain with the help of automation, analyze the samples, monitor quality, and report any errors to the administration as per the production standards.
Many brands worldwide, including Starbucks, have implemented 100% trackable supply chains, while others have integrated unique offerings such as tipping to the farmer who grew your brew. IBM Blockchain created the Farmer Connect traceability platform that works with global coffee supply chain companies including Beyers, Rabobank, Sucafina, and Yara among many others.
This industry is sure to watch out for, maybe autonomous robots would be used for coffee cherry picking, obviously with one common goal to maintain 100% transparency with their customer and perhaps significantly boost the livelihood of the coffee growers and thereby their brand image as a conscious, responsible sourcing initiative.
When customers are quizzed about important factors they consider when purchasing food, ‘knowing where the food comes from’, is closely followed by what is on the labels, is it Organic, non-G.M.O., Gluten Free, Natural, Cage-Free, No Added Hormones or Steroids are the most popular decision making indicators. Naturally, these come from brands being transparent about their value chain from farm to retail the aisle. The Labels or Smart QR codes reveal the product journey and indeed builds enormous trust among consumers.
Consumption of Corn and Quinoa are highest among grains in the West. As the demand is high, the supply needs to be in bulk, which often encounters food safety, poor warehousing, spoilage, and wastage. Companies that trade in bulk grain supply are implementing food traceability to ensure the supply chain works like butter.
Remember, Ontario’s Corn harvest in 2018, phew the unexpected rejection of two loads of corn due to slightly high values of vomitoxin, the Canadian farmers found themselves in a giant mess. Until when they switched to Grain Discovery a platform for the supply chain for grains. These digital platforms give both farmers and buyers control, allowing consumers to see the path their food traveled and also calculates the carbon intensity behind the production of food and biofuels.
Albeit implementing traceability in grains is an intricate task, it serves as a boon for quality control and stops losses in food wastage, logistics, information acquisition, storage and processing and more. Farmers now using IoT can track quinoa crop health, estimated harvest time, any disease, production, and more dara with real-time transmission using Traceability Softwares ensuring 100% traceability, which gives farmers’ precise information. With consistency in the grain is achieved, the growers can get a reasonable price for the quality.
Solid Food, a social enterprise that produces quinoa in Ayacucho, Peru and sells to Europe food industry, wholesalers and retailers, is a climate neutral facility. They use bio-fuel and 100% traceability solution with 500 quinoa farmers in Peru.
The fishing industry has one of the most unorganised food supply chains. With the fall of the new century, fisheries are now utilising innovative solutions to ensure supply chain efficiency and more dependable operations. The volume of Exports and Imports of seafood like Salmon, Tuna or Canned Seafood is unimaginably growing. Wild and Pond fish farming was disrupted by the COVID pandemic, as people and authorities involved in quality checks did not guarantee the produce being safe and consumable. Two years ago, EY Skye, a Norwegian IT consulting firm, had developed a salmon tracing blockchain solution using SAP’s Cloud Platform, that tracked each fish from egg to fillet. Now there are a plethora of companies that deploy blockchain traceability solutions in seafood.
Alaska Seafood is truly traceable, the suppliers must conform to applicable national and international laws governing food producers, and to Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute (ASMI) Traceability Standard, guaranteeing traceability.
In fisheries, Blockchain Traceability helps traders track product origin, enables transparency, provides all safety measures during transport or storage, and much more. The lack of transparency makes a difficult choice for consumers to know if the fish they are buying is legally sourced, comes from a sustainable fishery, and if the supply chain has fair labor practices.
Traceability in Fishing and Aquaculture encompasses the fishers, processors, and distributors to retailers and food service and most importantly trace their tuna products to vessels and trip dates.
The Global Dialogue on Seafood Traceability (GDST) & Global Tuna Alliance are following with countries where fishing is predominant and that the global guidelines are being adhered. Many countries follow strict protocols and their tuna supply chains are slave-free, but some still use third party verification and could be under the radar.
The pharmaceutical industry is a profitable market for counterfeits, and to counter misbehavior, thefts, or adulteration, traceability plays its part remarkably. Traceability also ensures the operations adhere to the government’s strict rules and regulations, smoothens the entire supply chain’s flow – from the factory to retail- and much more.
It also helps users trace their medicine back to the factory and study the drug’s advantages and disadvantages in-depth. Furthermore, traceability also enables easy management of the orders, shipment, and delivery; it becomes easier for companies to track records and know what products were sold to whom, when at what cost.
Much hyped recently,adulteration in Honey is a common sight. India’s honey exports to the EU and the UK are under the scanner for adulteration and presence of antibiotics such as ‘streptomycin’. The value chain is fragile, with poor internal quality and testing standards are the culprits. However, using blockchain, suppliers can use traceability data and differentiate premium products from cheaper imitations/counterfeits. TrackBack successfully tracks genuine mānuka honey from New Zealand to Shanghai, China using blockchain technology, using traceable blockchain technology against counterfeit, while also protecting brand reputation and distinguishing New Zealand exports from the competition.
Another implemented project is an agri-tech company named Edete is solving climate change problems with the help of modern technological solutions. The company has come up with an idiosyncratic solution to abbreviating pollination due to the bees’ disappearance. The platform developed by Edete uses artificial pollination methods and offers it as a service to other companies. Led by a strong team, the company is also working on solutions that harvest pollen from plants, synchronise them, and use mechanical devices that do the bee’s job of pollinating the field. This Israeli organization has reimagined the way food will be grown and sees full potential in artificial pollination. The company is looking forward to targeting the almond growers in the US – a whopping $5.5 billion market. As of 2021, the implementation of artificial pollination is in progress, and the company expects to generate revenue by the fall of 2022.
Well, the United Nations has declared 2021 as the International Year of Fruits and Vegetables. FAO of the United Nations, aims the IYVF initiative to raise awareness of the importance of fruits and vegetables to human health and food security and focus efforts to digitize food production systems and minimize loss and waste. SourceTrace has implemented horticulture traceability projects impacting over 10,000 farmers in the business of fresh fruits and vegetables. Technologies such as food traceability, farm to fork digitization and AI-based algorithms are the Agriculture and Food industry’s future because they offer 100% transparency to consumers. We foresee Organizations and Farmers adopting modern Agtech solutions to gain customer’s trust and enhance their brand reputation. This said, the regulatory authorities around the food and agri industry in every country are becoming conscious of the lack of producers and more mouths to feed, they clearly are acknowledging and making policy changes for growers, FPO’s and food retailers to adopt traceability as the primary and essential tool in 2021 and beyond. Traceability in agri-food is indeed becoming a norm.
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