Food industry’s seven steps to meet population challenge

By Laurence Gibbons

- Last updated on GMT

Rabobank has set out seven tips for the food industry to get smarter
Rabobank has set out seven tips for the food industry to get smarter

Related tags Agriculture

The food industry must focus on seven key objectives in order to boost production and increase availability and access to food “significantly” over the next decade to meet the demands of a growing global population, according to Rabobank.

It was “crucial”​ food businesses embraced four new technologies and focused on three specific areas across farming processing and logistics to meet the challenge of feeding a growing population, Rabobank claimed.

The four new technologies were: drones and big data, boosting poultry production and developing smart irrigation. These technologies would rely of the industry strengthening supply chains, enabling investment and winning society’s acceptance.  

Rabobank global head of food and agri banking Fred van Heyningen said the food industry must embrace every opportunity outlined in its ‘Building a Smarter Food System report.

More productive, less wasteful

“A smarter food system is more productive, less wasteful, and more profitable,” ​he said. “It combines technology and data to change the way, as well as the speed, at which decisions are made and to optimise the use of resources to produce and deliver the food consumers need and where they need it.”

By 2025, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation predicted a 30% increase in global daily food demand. This will require a global food system that is more efficient, better able to meet consumer expectations, more profitable, and more resilient in the face of macro-economic pressures, Rabobank said.

The research makes clear this is only achievable through the combination of technology, big data, and more advanced algorithms, it added.

Rabobank’s global strategist Justin Sherrard said: “Technology automates the way things happen, big data tells us what is happening, algorithms translate that data into decisions, adding speed and accuracy to food production, processing and distribution.


“Success will depend on disruptive ideas that investors are willing to back. The good news is that the move to a smarter system is already beginning to take shape.”

Rabobank admitted steps had already been taken to address the three key areas – supply chain, investment and societal acceptance.

New deal flows into smarter food systems are set to nearly double to $4.2bn this year from last year which saw a threefold increase on 2013’s level of investment, it claimed.

“Rabobank understands the size of this challenge but already sees positive examples of the transition towards building a smarter and more efficient food system,” ​it said.

Meanwhile, the Food Manufacture Group will discuss the latest technology in the industry during a one-day food innovation conference next year. New Frontiers in Food and Drink will take place on March 17 at the etc.venues, St Pauls, London.  For more information, including how to book, click here.

Seven key objectives

  • Drones: ​Increasingly used to monitor and boost livestock and crops, and measure pasture and grass growth
  • Big Data:​ Major retailers are using data to track purchases, and monitor the quality of perishable goods, enabling them to meet consumer demand more effectively
  • Poultry production:​ Processors can monitor the performance of poultry farmers providing guidance on potential productivity and welfare gains. Growing control over poultry hatching, production and processing can boost productivity and profitability up to 5%
  • Smart irrigation:​ GPS, plant and soil sensors providing real time data to spray systems to optimise the delivery of water and fertilisers
  • Strengthen supply chains:​ A smarter food system will require buyers and suppliers to make new investments and take on new risks in pursuit of new rewards. Success will depend on greater connectivity between buyers and suppliers, sharing data and making joint decisions in real time
  • Enable investment:​ New approaches and technologies entail new risks and opportunities. This will require understanding and support from both investors and regulators, who will need to provide frameworks where technology can be used safely and effectively.
  • Achieve societal acceptance:​ consumer concerns include genetic modification and cloning, and data privacy, food waste and nutrition. These concerns should be addressed and taken into account in the change process. Increased levels of engagement and education are required to build a smarter and more sustainable food system backed by public support.







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