Technology is the Key to Unlocking Our Agricultural Industry’s True Potential

By embracing technological innovation and analytics-driven software, the South African agricultural industry will be better prepared to meet the demands of consumers.

Data-driven decision making and technological innovation are the key to improving the future of South Africa’s fresh food production across the supply chain

It’s not something average consumers usually think about, but the journey our food takes from the farm to the supermarket shelf is complex and fraught with challenges. According to the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), a staggering 44% of our fruit and vegetable harvests go to waste each year before they even make it to market.

Looking at the bigger picture, it’s estimated that about 10 million tonnes, or 30%, of our local agricultural production, goes to waste each year. According to the WWF, the bulk of this loss happens during the post-harvest, processing, packaging, distribution and retail stages of the supply chain, with consumers only accounting for five percent.


Data to the rescue

Under the right conditions, technological innovation can help alleviate some of this burden and reduce food insecurity in a country where an estimated 14 million people go to bed hungry each night. More than just the loss of perfectly edible food to feed the hungry is the waste of resources used to grow and transport that food in the first place – the soil, water, energy and labour. It’s a cost that needs to be absorbed somewhere and, sadly, it’s usually added to the price of food that does make it to market.

Game-changing innovation offered by the automation of the growing, packing and shipping of fruits and vegetables – including Internet of Things (IoT) sensors to detect soil nutrients and water as well as artificial intelligence powered platforms for warehouse management and logistics – can make all the difference. It can help producers and suppliers not only reduce waste but cut costs and expand their businesses further.

Powered by Microsoft Dynamics, Braintree Fresh is an Enterprise Resource Planning software solution uniquely tailored to suit the needs of fresh food growers, packers and shippers.

By funnelling key decision-making data into a single point of access for everyone involved, it allows key operators along the food supply chain to not only meet but stay ahead of the demand for their products while minimising spoilage and increasing speed to market with accurate tools for product traceability, sell by/best by monitoring controls and safety compliance requirements.

The future is digital

Having access in real time to crucial decision-making information such as your product variety, its grade, size and origin from any connected device not only improves efficiency and optimises your supply chain management, but also ensures you’ll always remain compliant with local and international traceability requirements – another key area for avoiding unnecessary food wastage.

Keeping track of literally hundreds of variables is overwhelming at the best of times – but Braintree Fresh not only offers an opportunity to capture and record this data accurately, but allows you to extract even greater value by turning this data into information for spotting new trends and sales opportunities as well as improved customer experience as a win for all.

COVID-19 not only created greater demand for access to immune-boosting fresh fruits and vegetables, it also placed even greater emphasis on a growing trend of knowing where and how the food we eat comes from, and being able to supply it as close to home as possible to keep those shelves stocked.

By embracing technological innovation and analytics-driven software, the South African agricultural industry will not only be better prepared to meet the demands of consumers – which will soon include everything from providing online shopping opportunities and same-day delivery - but also hopefully achieve the goal of reducing unnecessary food wastage by half too.

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