IoT and Food Industry Sustainability

January 6, 2016

According to a 2015 survey, there was almost a 20% jump in the number of food and beverage companies with product sustainability goals compared to 2013. When you think about sustainable farming, waste reduction, and keeping up with feeding the world’s population, you don’t necessarily think about technology and the Internet of Things. But with the IoT changing the landscape of virtually every industry and enterprise, the reality is that the IoT can play a vital role in improving processes in the farm to fork cycle.

The potential for smart connected products, systems, and operations when it comes to the food and beverage industry is mindboggling. Take AB Inbev’s Smart Barley Program, which allows barley farmers to benchmark their progress by comparing their crop yields to those of other growers both in their regions and beyond. Further, by participating in the AgriMet program, farmers have real-time access to vital data concerning water usage.

At a more basic level, IoT can also help individual farmers with managing day to day tasks like monitoring the supply of livestock feed. Rather than send a worker up to visually inspect the contents of a silo, IoT solutions can measure food levels and determine when orders should be placed, or even place the order on the farmer’s behalf. Data can be gathered to help the farmer forecast and project feed usage and costs.

Farmers and manufacturers aren’t the only stakeholders when it comes to food-related technology advances. Consumers stand to benefit as well. Think about it: how often have you thrown away a piece of meat that sat in your fridge maybe a day or two beyond your comfort zone? Maybe you inspected it and even smelled it and it seemed fine, but it had reached the expiration date and you just couldn’t bring yourself to put yourself and your family at risk by taking a chance and eating it. Perhaps that meat was fine, and you could have enjoyed it after all. Or maybe it really was past its prime and eating it would have made you ill. MIT’s development of sensors to help detect rotting meat and produce makes the concept of the smart kitchen seem more within reach than ever before.

As the IoT evolves and as sustainability in the food and beverage industry progresses, there is immense opportunity to improve efficiency in farming and manufacturing, increase effectiveness in the logistics of processing and transporting of food, and to reduce overall waste.




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