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Technology Within the Produce Industry: What You Need to Know

By Michael Collins, June 20, 2019

Tags: iNECTA Produce, Produce

Technology has been fully engrained in the produce industry for quite some time now, but what can we expect for the future? And what about details regarding agriculture technology is vital to understand? At a recent conference hosted by the Produce Marketing Association, the catalysts were highlighted for all that attended. We at iNECTA thought it would be a good idea to discuss in some depth what we’ve learned in regard to what technology is at our disposal to advance agriculture across multiple platforms.

Throughout the event, emphasis was placed on technology from postharvest, food safety, crop inputs and the shipment to the consumer. One of the biggest themes in most of the speakers’ presentations was the need for collaboration across the supply chain to resolve the industry’s biggest issues. A highlight of this tech convo was Seminis Vegetable Seeds’ “High Rise” broccoli which has garnered a considerable number of accolades. This is one example of successful collaboration as the concept was developed in tandem with growers and processors who are lacking in skilled labor. “High Rise” requires less harvest passes, and its height lends itself to time-saving mechanically engineered harvesting, which has escalated the rate by which the broccoli is harvested, maximizing productivity.

Another achievement in agricultural technology that was highlighted during the PMA conference was the development of apple harvesting robotics attributed to Abundant Robotics in collaboration with apple tree growth and developments. In addition, praise was acknowledged for the strawberry industry for Harvest CROO’s development of advanced technological strawberry harvesters.

We’re also happy to highlight an advancement made thanks to Microsoft. Microsoft’s own Ranveer Chandra unveiled new technology under development which will exponentially improve agricultural production across the supply chain due to an Internet of Things approach, capitalizing on efficient data services to reduce waste and maximize output. Even more emphasis was placed on the need to earn more trust in our food supply chain in the aftermath of some devastating foodborne illnesses in the past year. PMA’s CTO Bob Whitaker implored industry heads to leverage scientific knowledge to better understand and manage foodborne pathogens. The technology developed in recent years designed to fight foodborne illnesses should be the priority according to the majority of the esteemed attendees at the conference. Through cooperation and collaboration with organizations such as Romaine Task Force and the Center for Produce Safety, experts can leverage cutting-edge technology and conduct root cause analysis in order to stamp out an outbreak immediately before it reaches alarming levels. Fostering proper transparency between consumers and the products they buy was another major point raised throughout the conference.

Technology looks bright as far as the produce industry is concerned. It is all about how we leverage this technology, and whether or not it is fulfilling its full potential.