Improving the connectivity in the supply chain through data will create smarter agrifood chains and will be beneficial to all parties argues Claire Lewis, Product Manager for Agrimetrics, the big-data centre of excellence. The organisation has resolved a major obstacle in the digitisation of the industry: it has gained agreements to make multiple data sources available in a consistent format and can link this wealth of information to a location such as a farm or field. This will make it easier for the value-chain to agree and deliver 'in-spec' products, thereby reducing waste in the system. The new products are to be launched in London on 17th May 2018.
Claire joined Agrimetrics from a major retailer, where she was involved in procurement. She says: "The issue when purchasing a highly perishable product is that you have little sight of the growing conditions to make an assessment of its state of readiness. You are then faced with the challenge of 'buying the unknown' and not being well informed enough of the product's availability and where it is being sourced from.
"The growing environment is influenced by soil, temperature, rainfall, hours of sunshine, and variety of crop grown. Agrimetrics' big data platform ingests data about all these factors and makes it available in a consistent format for businesses to use in whichever way suits them best, be that stand-alone or combined with their own business data.
"The new product range is all about improving access to this data so that it can be available to the client's own planning or procurement systems. A unique feature is around anchoring a range of different data sources to a physical location such as a farm, field or watershed.
"For retailers the clear benefit is that they will be armed with a much better understanding and insight in to the supply of their edible goods and any environmental challenges which might be impacting on their quality or availability.
"Access to data will make it easier to create mutually beneficial relationships that optimise the use of resources. We believe that Agrimetrics is able to offer that missing link."
Will McManus of WRAP welcomes these developments, commenting that there is considerable opportunity to improve efficiency in the system. He says: "Our engagement with Agrimetrics as a signatory to the Courtauld 2025 voluntary agreement has proved that better information flow and transparency within the value chain help to improve communication and resource efficiency. The big data platform will help this even further by facilitating agri-data exchange."
Agrimetrics' client MMFlowers has seen the benefit of vertical integration. The company has developed close relationships with its' rose growing operations and retail customers to help optimise performance at every step of the value chain. MMFlowers' Colum Donnelly comments: "We realised the power of data to drive the company early on and established a Research and Data Division to capture information about the consumer experience and relate this to the product lifecycle. We are working with Agrimetrics to link up our data from breeding to vase to ensure we can offer a sustainable, consistent product to our customers."