Innovative Supply Chains Feed the Future

By Carrissa Pahl Published on Jan. 12, 2021

If Covid-19 has changed anything in the food industry, supply chains and production are at the top of the list. This pandemic has questioned the safety of food production facilities, as well as challenged supply chains to become more personalized and smaller. Demand for food is growing and researchers don’t think this will end anytime soon. With a growing population and an increasing individual income, a solution is needed in order to keep the world fed.

Supply Chains are in Danger

Rob Dongoski, EY Food and Agribusiness Leader, found that before Covid, households were getting 50% of their meals from restaurants or takeout meals. Now 90% of family meals are cooked at home. This means people are taking more time to focus on what they are buying, where it’s coming from, and demanding availability of more food.

The food system has been known for being a commodity-oriented, build-for-scale industry. However this is changing rapidly into a personalized and value-based global supply chain. Companies are being challenged to improve their supply chain based on sustainability, transparency, and personalization.

Dongoski also suggests that companies need to start thinking about how they can shorten their supply chain. This will give companies and consumers more transparency of where their products are coming from. Corporations should ask what value they are providing and will their consumers value it. Building valuable relationships with producers, consumers, and transporters will make for a better experience all around.

Companies that prepare, anticipate, and get ahead on planning will be the ones who succeed in improving their business before it’s too late.

Improving Your Supply Chain

Stable, safe, and trusted. Those are just a few words to describe what supply chains should strive to be. Food safety has become even more of a requirement since the Covid-19 pandemic has erupted. With intense restrictions, increasingly health-conscious consumers, and food safety concerns, preparing for the future should be top of mind.

No doubt companies’ supply chains are being disrupted, but what really is affecting them?

Reduced Consumer Confidence and Spending

Food consumed outside of one’s home comprised half of the US’ food consumption before the pandemic hit. Now more consumers than ever are stockpiling and saving, therefore reducing spending immensely due to the unknowns of the pandemic.

Channel Inflexibility and Lack of Adaptivity

When a food company is built to produce channel-specific food such as food service, retail, or e-commerce, their inflexibility to adapt may be hurting them. Companies need to start working towards a more varied audience if they want to succeed after Covid-19.

Transportation

Border closures and transportation restrictions have made it increasingly difficult to transfer goods. New restrictions mean longer travel times,increased cost, and time.

New Protocols and Safety Requirements

To ensure worker/workplace safety, many corporations were forced to change the layouts of their workplace to abide by new rules of social distancing. A solution to this is automating the workplace, but this comes with its own challenges.

Successful change will have to come from adaptation and willingness to learn new ways of sourcing, producing, and transporting goods.

The Future of Food Production

One of the biggest issues facing our future is how we will feed the population in coming years. Currently, we have enough food to feed the roughly seven billion people on this planet, but we still have poverty and malnourished citizens due to poor distribution methods and other setbacks. According to environmentreports.com, there will be an added two billion people living on earth by the year 2050. They also predict that our crop production will need to increase by close to 100% if we expect to feed all those people.

How can we feed the two billion additional people while ensuring our food system and economy do not collapse? Focusing on sustainable, smaller, and smarter supply chains will help ensure that companies, farmers, distributors, and producers are ready for the future demand of consumers.

Digitizing the Food Industry

According to Daniel Nelson, the Co-Founder and CEO of Grow Computer, indoor farming is the future of agriculture. The population is ever-growing and the cost of traditional farming is extremely high. Therefore the need for a bigger solution such as indoor agriculture, vertical farming, and others are weighing.

Digitizing the food industry can minimize the need for unneeded steps, ensure safety, quality, and make for more efficient supply chains. In order to digitize the food industry, companies should be working to improve these key areas.

Work with experience

Experience is key. This is why companies should focus on working with trusted partners who have experience in the industry. Learning from examples and experiences can help boost new ideas for the future.

Start small

Start out with tasks that will be easy to complete or work towards. Make sure to have the technology nailed before taking on tasks that may be larger or be tougher to complete.

Make sure everyone is on the same page

Prepare employees for what they will be taking on and the tasks that the company will be taking on in the future. Make sure employees are well-equipped and have learned what they will be doing and can do it in a timely manner with good execution.

Mechanized Farms

Mechanized farms enhance farm labour productivity by using machines to grow row after row of crops. This allows farmers to cover more ground and use much less labor. This method could help produce more food in a shorter amount of time. Instead of using ploughs and other human-powered tools, this will allow for cheaper and more efficient ways of harvesting food.

Traditional farming is becoming more unpredictable due to the increase in natural disasters and climate change. The increased risk due to unknown climate change and disasters is causing food production companies to second guess traditional farming. It is getting more and more expensive and going digital with something like Grow Computer will help data tracking and sharing among farmers.

Startups

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Babylon Micro Farms: Babylon has created a new way to farm. Anyone can do with as little or as much space as they have. Committed to creating sustainable micro farms, Babylon creates indoor vertical farming designed to provide the freshest produce available.Babylon is determined to develop technology that automates the complex aspects of indoor farming and help make this technology accessible to anyone.

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Grow Computer: Grow Computer is building the IoT operating system for indoor agriculture and controlled environments’ that will power, connect, and optimize these opportunities. Their indoor agriculture systems are smart which means you can monitor your farm from anywhere at any time. The grow systems use sensors to transmit information to the central GrowHub. It then reports on grow specific data in order to get access to historical data that can be analyzed to predict harvest, improve crop yield, or mitigate issues.

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Green Rabbit: Green Rabbit is a distribution service in the US. They market themselves to be different from the rest because they use sustainable packaging and guarantee the freshness and cleanliness of their products and deliveries. Their cold-chain technology manages the entire supply chain process, giving businesses real-time visibility into each order and ensuring fast, fresh, and economic delivery. Green Rabbit has committed to making the transition to packaging that is 100% plant-based, fully recyclable and biodegradable.

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Clear Labs: Clear Labs is a scientific testing company changing the way animals and food are tested for deadly diseases. As the standard of molecular food quality in the global food industry, Clear Labs is putting health first in their determination to make food safer. Clear Safety enables deep molecular characterization of pathogens, with just the amount of information needed for your safety program. You can choose to drill down to serotypes, strains, or whole genome sequences based on the application need.


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