If food supply is to last through 2050, digital standards must be adopted now
- TOMRA Food has embarked on an effort to form inter-industry working groups to accelerate digital standards for the food industry, the company announced Thursday. The first meetings will occur in the fourth quarter of 2018.
- The data on which digitization and optimization can be based is available via TOMRA food sorters around the world, in addition to coming from countless other devices and applications used for harvest to distribution to consumer purchase.
- Four specific working groups are planned for the 2018 initiative: "precision agriculture – using sorting data to inform future farming practices; packhouse operations – optimizing yield, throughput, and up-time through machine data; distribution – reducing waste through alignment of packaging and transport, and retail – integrating production data with last mile fulfillment practices," according to the press release.
"The world needs to feed three billion more people by 2050 and that is not far away," Mike Riley, Head of TOMRA Food told Supply Chain Dive. "If you are a grower of produce, that does not give you long to become more efficient."
Like any other industry, the food chain can benefit from advanced data analysis.The food chain is one of the most complex to manage, in part due to the 40% rate of post-harvest loss , as well as ever-changing consumer trends, such as the current demand for organics. The application of logistics can help reduce waste, while analytics can assess appropriate volume and production levels.
Food chain experts have long struggled with appropriate methods of production management. "The technology supporting the fresh produce supply chain is fragmented from a global perspective. It is therefore vital that as an industry we collaborate to deliver the most efficient picking, sorting, processing and delivery from farm to fork," Riley said.
He adds recent research from Bayer shows 94% of people believe companies have a "duty" to collaborate on food supply issues. These issues include ensuring access to affordable, nutritious and safe food for everyone. Technology providers and food manufacturers alike can do more to help, he said.
"Having agreed digital standards leads to faster continuous improvements, from precision farming to trading to retail marketing of fresh and processed food products, " Riley added. But the first step to innovation is coming together to identify potential areas of progress.
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