Role of Agri-technology in food exports post COVID 19

Agri-technology in food exports post COVID 19

From farm to retail, the food export industry is facing prolonged challenges but at the same time, advanced technology has aided the industry to keep its business flourishing. But for how long? Will agri-tech revolutionize the industry ? Will exporters be in a better position?

The recent COVID 19 pandemic has exerted an immediate, serious, and asynchronous shock worldwide on the global agricultural industry and the food systems. These impacts are likely to remain in place for months to come and its effects might last even longer. The challenge is on two fronts – to revive the global economy and to contain the pandemic. This calls for understanding the market, tracking it closely to mitigate risks, and to ensure a smooth transition to the post-pandemic world.

As per the World Health Organization, almost 1 in 10 people – fall ill after eating contaminated food each year, resulting in 420,000 deaths globally. The pandemic has only increased these numbers due to inadequate measures to track where the food is coming from. The stakeholders involved in the agricultural supply chain have become more strict, conscious, and aware of the facts. To manage an issue of this scale, there is a need for interventions at every touchpoint in the food industry – from farm to retail.

Agri-technology in food exports post COVID 19

A food business works with multiple farmers and sourcing agents. Traditionally, it required paperwork, a team of employees to take care of day-to-day and manual operations, bulky ERP systems, and investment in personal relations to maintain goodwill. This upraised debates about quality, confusion about the origin, food fraud, and business loss due to returns. There was no way businesses could gain complete control over quality especially during today’s times when it has become even more critical to be aware.

Some Key Facts:

  • Traceability is an ever-increasing market. It is projected that the market worth will be $22 billion by 2025. In 2017, the market was valued at $10 billion.

  • Traceability is compulsory for all food businesses after the EU’s General Food Law came into force in 2002.

The role of agri-technology in food exports is witnessing challenges but is driving resilience in the agricultural value chain. COVID 19 has reiterated and forced the stakeholders to monitor and control the issue in a more systematic way to keep the supply chains across the spectrum, in action.

According to the Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI) scheme, the food retailers across the world are also increasingly demanding certifications of suppliers to ensure food safety for every stakeholder in the value chain.

Agri-technology in food exports post COVID 19

The countries across the globe are, on one hand, gradually opening up agri-produce to exports and expand to new horizons but on the other hand, increasing legislation and protectionism for all produce, leading to difficulty in exports. The need of the industry is to adopt new technologies that offer inclusive growth and enhanced trust for stakeholders within the country and abroad. This will facilitate growth, employment, and incomes of farmers in the coming months.

New Technologies will also mean greater prices. In these uncertain and unpredictable times, global price-sensitivity becomes another bottleneck to exports. Increasing price-sensitivity demands better branding of premium exports to retain market share in various countries even though the quantum of premium exports has observed a significant downfall.

Case Study: Indian Agri-produce Export Market

Agri-technology in food exports post COVID 19

India’s Robusta coffee is facing stiff competition in the Italian market, from countries like Uganda, which is a low-cost producer of coffee beans for the same quality as offered by Indian exports. Shipments have dropped by a whopping 27% for the Indian export market. The coffee that otherwise attracted a large number of consumers in Italy is now facing a slump and losing the market share.

Some startling facts about Indian Agri-export market

  • In 2018- 2019, 37 notifications were issued and a majority of them were rejected on the border as they either had no certificates or they were improper.

  • Traceability is compulsory for all food businesses after the EU’s General Food Law came into force in 2002.

Role of Technologies in the Agri Industry – A few more Case Studies

Technologies such as Blockchains, IoT, Big data are revolutionizing the agriculture and food industry.

Blockchain enables the businesses to make their data verifiable and tamper-resistant and enables easy and smooth tracking for all relevant stakeholders.

Major food brands such as Nestlé and Carrefour, using Blockchains, are empowering their customers to access data for Mousline purée in France. Similarly, Italy’s Spinosa launched a Blockchain-certified Mozzarella cheese value chain for monitoring quality control closely and on every step of the process. Countries like Australia are using a Blockchain platform, BeefLedger, to enable its Chinese buyers of beef to view complete details of the meat, transparently and securely. This is a trend that will only see a rise in the post-pandemic world, as transparency and traceability of the food value chain is observing a growing need in the global food industry.

Transformation at an ecosystem level

Blockchain can dramatically improve transparency not just for businesses but government agencies and regulators as well. Experts around the world are carrying out blockchain experiments to enforce better visibility into complex food ecosystems. This is empowering the farmers and consumers to eliminate corruption and weed out malpractices.

The Chinese city of Guangzhou is using Blockchain to lead the way in ensuring greater transparency and food safety to its food markets. The platform has a presence in over 8,018 businesses for more than 90 agricultural markets. Similarly, UK’s Food Standards Agency piloted blockchain to bring transparency in beef and pork value chains.

Agri-technology in food exports post COVID 19

Blockchain technology has opened up endless doors to exciting opportunities for new businesses and startups in this sector. A business that otherwise would have taken years to establish its foot in the market is now able to exploit technologies such as blockchains for traceability and transparency. This helps them focus on their core business and offer a value proposition to all stakeholders and consumers while positioning their product/practices as superior. This has led to an increase in not only the demand in the country but is also successful in attracting higher exports with full transparency.

Agri-technology in food exports post COVID 19

Initial days of hype of technologies including blockchains have now shown tremendous growth and improvement and have gathered conviction from food industry stakeholders from around the world. The transformation has just begun, and with endless opportunities, the future Agri exports hold a lot of scope and potential.

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


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