The integration of technology in agriculture, also known as Agritech, has significantly affected the food manufacturing industry. Agritech has improved various aspects of food manufacturing, such as the production, distribution, processing and how manufacturers deal with the suppliers and growers of the ingredients. The application of Agritech in food manufacturing has led to increased efficiency, reduced costs and better-quality food products. The impact of technology and better communication and collaboration have strengthened the relationship between food manufacturers and agricultural companies. Several technologies and practices are making an impact.
Precision farming uses data analytics, predictive modeling and technology to optimize the food manufacturing process from field to fork. Precision farming enables farmers to analyze soil quality, weather patterns and crop performance to determine the precise amount of water, nutrients and pesticides required for each crop. By using precision farming techniques, farmers can improve crop yields while reducing waste, producing more food and conserving resources. Using technology for improved communication, smart devices, RFID, etc., food manufacturers can get this input directly from the field to better plan the potential supply of materials. Farmers and food manufacturers can make data-driven decisions to maximize productivity, minimize waste and meet consumer preferences more effectively.
Drone technology is popping up in many industries. In Agritech, drones are making a significant impact. Drones equipped with cameras and sensors can provide valuable data on crop health and help farmers monitor their fields' irrigation needs. They also spray pesticides, fertilizers and herbicides, reducing the amount of chemicals needed while improving the accuracy of their application. Research is ongoing to see how they can help provide water to troubled farming areas as well. Having the ability to cover small and precise areas allows farmers to treat specific problem areas. This saves time, resources and costs. With drones, farmers can survey vast land areas quickly and efficiently, identifying problem areas and taking corrective action promptly.
Indoor Farming and Vertical Farming
Agritech has facilitated the development of indoor farming systems and vertical farms, where crops grow in controlled environments with the help of artificial lighting, hydroponics and aeroponics. These methods reduce the reliance on traditional outdoor farming, allowing for year-round production, higher crop yields and decreased water usage. Offering the ability to produce crops year-round greatly reduces the issue of seasonality while at the same time producing more quantities of fresher food. Another major advantage is the reliance on land and space. Vertical farms are anywhere: old warehouses, factories and even skyscrapers. This technology will allow the growth of large amounts of fresh produce in more urban areas. This will shorten the supply chain, reduce transportation costs and deliver fresher produce to consumers faster.
Robotics and Automation
Agritech has revolutionized food processing by automating many tasks that were once manual, reducing labor costs and increasing efficiency. Using automated systems to sort, wash and package fruits and vegetables is common. Robotics and automation in the meat industry, where robotic systems cut and package meat, reportedly increase productivity and reduce waste.
Smart Packaging and Label Sensoring
We have seen beer manufacturers use technology for sensing container temperatures for years. But today, smart packaging is being taken to newer levels the research is continuing and new innovations are occurring monthly. Smart packaging uses sensors and monitoring systems to ensure that food products are stored and transported under the correct conditions. For example, sensors can monitor temperature, humidity and oxygen levels, ensuring food products remain fresh and safe for consumption. Using sensors, smart labels and other technology, critical information is traceable throughout the supply chain. The consumer will be able to get this information through their smartphones by scanning codes on the packaging.
Better Supply Management and Traceability
Supply chain expenses are one of the largest components of Costs of Goods Sold (COGS). Tracking and tracing food products from farm to fork through technologies like blockchain, RFID (Radio-Frequency Identification) and IoT (Internet of Things) is possible. This allows for multiple benefits across multiple industries helps streamline the supply chain and reduces costs. Farmers can get better information and improve yields. Transportation of produce improves by monitoring the shipping environments and optimizing routes. Manufacturers will have the ability to have better inventory visibility and control, as well as streamlining the supply chain and having transparency throughout. In the event of the need for a recall, these technologies will make it faster and easier to trace the source of the problem and help determine a quick resolution to minimize the impact on the public.
Sustainability is and has been a hot button for some time. Moreover, it is going to get hotter. In fact, many consumers today are not purchasing products from companies that do not outwardly demonstrate and publicize their sustainable footprint. According to a report by First Insight published in Forbes, “Today, nearly 90% of Gen X consumers said that they would be willing to spend an extra 10% or more for sustainable products, compared to just over 34% two years ago.” Technologies like precision agriculture and controlled environment farming help optimize resource usage, minimize water consumption, reduce chemical inputs and decrease greenhouse gas emissions. These practices contribute to more environmentally friendly and sustainable food production. Along with the investments in sustainable packaging, food manufacturers are adopting the sustainable movement.
The world is changing. Consumers are changing. To keep up with the demands of the global food market, manufacturers also need to change. Combining Agritech with food manufacturing transforms the industry and the entire food supply chain. New technologies and practices are transforming the agriculture and food manufacturing industries by improving efficiency, reducing costs and creating more sustainable food systems. Precision farming, vertical farming, drones, automation, smart packaging and other technologies are helping farmers and food manufacturers produce more food while conserving resources and reducing waste. As Agritech continues to evolve, it will undoubtedly play a significant role in shaping the future of food manufacturing. Applying these practices, other manufacturing and supply chain systems and processes and Cloud Technology will enable all players in the food industry to meet the challenges of a growing global population while addressing environmental concerns.