Digital, agri-food companies lead the supply chain

If we look at agri-food supply chain as a whole, the transformation sector is the one that has most embraced the paradigm digitization. According to the latest data ofSmart AgriFood ObservatorySchool of Management of Politecnico di Milano and Rise Laboratory – Research and Innovation for Smart EnterprisesUniversity of Bresciawell82% of agri-food companies use digital solutions and 48% uses four or more. 11% use three, 12% use two, and only 12% use only one.

However, if we move upstream in the supply chain, it is clear that only 79% of farms you use digital tools and 28% you use four or more. However, if we analyze this data prospectively, trend it absolutely is positive. In fact, an average of 3.2 solutions are used per company, a number that continues to grow 21% year-on-year (2022 of 2021).

Digital in agri-food companies

But what are they? accepted solutions from companies? At the head we find i management software, chosen by 77% of companies. Followed by cloud (48%), QRCodes (46%), mobile (33%), Epr-Mes (28%), robots and cobots (29%), Tms-Wms (25%) and then business intelligence software, RFID and NFC tags, x-rays (due to product quality), 3D printers and blockchain (less than 5%).

He made the most impressive jump cloudwhich saw a year-on-year increase in usage of 30%, as well as robot, which instead recorded +80%. However, it is clear that the technologies currently on the cusp of the wave and receiving a lot of media exposure, such as virtual reality, artificial intelligence, blockchain and 3D printers, are in fact marginal in operations agricultural and food companies.

The most used solution

The most used solution

(Photo source: Smart AgriFood Observatory)

THE reasons which compels entrepreneurs to adopt digital tools are easy to say: in 64% of cases, you want to improve production processes, so you look at a production efficiency. In 38% of casesobjective it is traceability, useful both for rapid withdrawal from the market in case of problems and for telling, for example with a QRCode, the story of the food.

It follows with 26% warehouse management and food safety. In fifth place with 16% is Lo development new products and in 15% of cases we look at sustainability environmental and social.

Digital is certainly perceived by entrepreneurs as a capable tool promote growth corporate, but there are different ones obstacles which slow down its adoption. The main one is costswhich every other company considers excessive.

It follows with 24%. lack of skills in society. And importantly, 16% of companies lack a contact person for digital innovation, which is usually entrusted to the owner (25% of cases) or the IT manager (20% of the sample).

15% of companies believe that technology on the market they do not adapt to their needswhile 14% see a return on investment too far back in time. Difficulty follows with 13% measure benefits innovation and 9% believe it lack of cooperation between different areas of society is an obstacle to digitization. Only 7% see in one lack of after sales support obstacle.

Despite the positive numbersadoption and further development opportunities for all those technologies that are still little used and known, less than 30% of companies declare that they intend to invest in new solutions in the next three years. L’80% of companies those who do not intend to invest have already implemented one or more digital solutions, so they probably want to measure the benefits now before making new investments. Among the solutions that 28% want to invest in are traceability (33%) and business intelligence software (26%), but also QRCode-based solutions (23%).

Digital in agriculture, an upward curve

Even farms they look with interest at digital innovation. On average, they are used 3.2 solutions per companywhich is 21% more than in 2021. And while 28% use four or more, 12% stop at three, another 12% at two and 19% at a single solution.

It is also the first accepted solution in the agricultural sector management software (47%), but in second place (34%) we find systems monitoring and control machinery and equipment. Even lower, at 26%, are systems crop monitoring and 20% decision support systems (dss).

Only 1% is used. robot field and 4% instead rely on drones. However, the adoption of different types of technologies to monitor and control production factors (such as water, fertilizers and agrochemicals) is good.

Solution 4.0 used by agricultural companies

Solution 4.0 used by agricultural companies

(Photo source: Smart AgriFood Observatory)

If you look at a cross-section of the agricultural sector breeding companies, the situation is much rosier. Up to 70% use management software and 34% use DSS, 20 percentage points more than agricultural companies. Also robot they are now a consolidated reality in the stable, with up to 24% of companies adopting them, compared to 1% in the agricultural sector in general.

THE satisfied needs from digital are in line with the entire supply chain:

  • Optimize usage input technicians – 63%.
  • Optimize usage waterfall – 51%.
  • Optimize Work operators – 38%.
  • Optimize the use of the park cars – 37%.
  • Improve quality product – 36%.
  • Reduce the time to perform duties regulatory obligations – 25%.
  • Reduce damage parasites and weeds – 22%.
  • Guarantee traceability – 21%.
  • Make manual work less tiring – 16%.

THE numbers from the Smart AgriFood Observatory tell us that the percentage of land cultivated with 4.0 solutions is also increasing, from 6% in 2021 to8% from 2022. This increase, while significant, remains limited, indicating considerable room for growth in the market.

During 2022, a substantial part of the investments came from agricultural companies with experience in the 4.0 sector, which they continue to innovate acquiring new solutions or services. However, this does not translate into an increase in cultivated area with 4.0 technologies, since these systems actually work on the same cultivated area. So there remains a considerable potential unexpressed.

Furthermore, it should be emphasized that for maximize benefits AND ensure a positive experienceit is necessary to enabledata integration coming from different systems, internal or external. In recent years, there has been an increase in joint initiatives and projects that they promoteinteroperability, including the rise of data integration platforms, many of which are international in scope. These platforms have a goal support agricultural companies directly in fundamental decisions, favouritism harmonious use of data from heterogeneous sources.

Read also Agriculture 4.0 and data interoperability. Let’s take stock


Image Line® is a partner of the Smart AgriFood Observatory

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