How the food processing industry can address challenges to digitization and unlock growth

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Digital transformation is fast becoming an imperative for food processing companies, as it can achieve end-to-end traceability, optimize operations at every stage, eliminate malpractices, and build brand loyalty. Digitization also helps in quality assurance and wastage prevention and is emerging to be synonymous with maintaining food security. As per an internal survey of food processing companies commissioned by Cropin, 91% of respondents were keen to adopt a centralized platform for effective data management. The poll showed that a shift to automate the process of data collection in the industry is imperative and predicted that it will increase from 55% in 2022 to 91% by 2024.

Challenges on the road to farm digitization

The food processing industry has been slow to digitize its downstream value chain (from farm to warehouse), the effect of which has been aggravated by unpredictable supply chains globally. Digitization is predicted to increase revenue by leveraging the data collated to develop efficient workflows across the entire business value chain and drive considerable progress.

While there is a willingness for transformation, the top three impediments, as per the survey, are:

  • 54% indicated a shortage of digital talent and digital knowledge was a top challenge to successful farm digitization
  • 51% stated that the lack of workflow customization and localization of digital solutions posed a challenge
  • 41% of respondents said that unstructured data sets were a challenge to effective farm digitization

Owing to such challenges, despite the willingness for a shift, 40% of food processing companies still need to incorporate automation, the Internet of things (IoT) and Artificial Intelligence (AI) into their operations. It will improve end-to-end traceability, increase productivity and accountability, reduce wastage, and optimize the cost of operations.

It is here that an integrated cloud solution tailored for the food processing industry can help companies achieve efficient and seamless digital transformation. Such a solution can:

  • Ensure adherence to Package of Practices (PoPs) and produce quality for commanding market premium
  • Monitor and track agri-input resource usage to ensure food safety and integrity
  • Provide end-to-end traceability of operations to guarantee certifications across existing and new markets
  • Prevent counterfeiting of goods with QR-enabled product stickers

An offering with a difference: Cropin Cloud

Cropin Cloud is a first-of-its-kind industry platform that provides a complete set of industry-specific capabilities aimed at accelerating business growth through rapid and far-reaching digital transformation. It integrates Cropin apps (Cropin Grow, Cropin Connect and Cropin Trace), Cropin Data Hub, and Cropin Intelligence to unlock effective digitization owing to the:

  • Easy and user-friendly interface that do not require unique skillsets and can be used by stakeholders at all stages of the value chain
  • Intuitive workflow customization and comprehensive localized intelligence
  • Integrated data management and actionable intelligence

In fact, the platform has been proven to reduce data engineering efforts by 80 percent.

The Cropin advantage

Cropin Trace provides a QR code-enabled traceability solution that chronicles every step of the farm-to-fork journey, thus eliminating counterfeiting.

Food processing companies are likely to get data from a variety of sources - in-field farming apps, agricultural drones, mechanization data from farming equipment, remote sensors, IoT devices, satellite imagery, and weather advisories, for instance. The requirement is not just to process these inputs along with the metadata but also to customize the inputs into reports and visualizations for easy access and use. In this context, Cropin Data Hub approaches data through an agri-object model to process data, analyze it, and provide an interface for queries and problem-solving.

Cropin Data Hub is developed with pre-built advanced data frameworks aimed at addressing the most common and constantly challenging problems in remote monitoring of the downstream supply chain. It solves challenges like cloud-free satellite imagery, boundary-detection of farm plots, segmentation of land use, and so on. It brings together remote field data, enterprise, and agronomy sciences under Cropin’s Crop Intelligence Models and datasets to gain significant insights and value for the business while sparing the need to expend critical resources on re-inventing the wheel.

Democratizing data access

The Cropin ecosystem not only provides a single platform for digitization but also puts all the stakeholders involved in the process on the same platform. Food processing companies work closely with farmers to ensure predictable and adequate yields. These companies can improve farmer engagement by leveraging collaborative programs with crop protection companies (fertilizer/pesticides) and financial institutions to fund the farmer, as all these players are on the same platform and get the same insight to work on. This way, they help the farmer, benefit each other, and enable successful implementation of a project.

The integrated Cropin Cloud puts various departments and geographies of an organization on a single platform. It breaks down silos, for example, by digitizing and analyzing traceability data. Food processors can democratize data for both upstream and downstream value chain teams. The upstream value chain can use it to build consumer trust.

As the food processing industry sees growing competition and an inflationary environment that is here to stay, an additional benefit that solutions such as Cropin Cloud offer is optimization of resources through upskilling. As the food processing industry is grappling with lack of digital talent, Cropin can help them address this gap by providing access to a pool of intelligent and skilled workforce. Enterprises can optimize use of their resources, as Cropin Cloud provides them with clean, conceptualized data that can be readily used. Experts need not waste time to make sense of data before using it to derive intelligence.

ESG compliance: an extra benefit

In addition to comprehensive tracking the crop from farm-to-fork, Cropin Cloud empowers businesses to track environmental impact of agricultural production, along with its economic, health and social consequences. Cropin Intelligence uses contextual deep-learning and AI/ML models developed by the platform to provide agri-businesses with transparent data points to ensure sustainable agriculture. The apps on Cropin Cloud platform record multiple high quality data points during crop lifecycles like soil data, harvest quality and quantity, crop images, irrigation details, pest and disease incidents, details on usage of agri-inputs like fertilizer and pesticides, sowing date, seed variety, all weather parameters, satellite data and various agronomic data records/observation at different crop stages. This rich data lake so collated not only allows the enterprise customer to get a 360-degree view of all the agricultural inputs going into the cultivation, but also provides access to genuine, honest reportable data. This single source of truth can be used by the food processing companies as proof for alignment with their environmental, social and governance (ESG) goals.

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Cropin Apps

Applications for

Cropin Apps is an integrated portfolio of highly customizable apps and solutions that capture and digitise agri-data from the farm to the warehouse to the fork. These applications are designed to scale digital transformation across agriculture and allied industries including forestry, commodity, banking and insurance.


ML-ready data pipelines for enhanced analytics

Cropin Data Hub is designed to deliver the power of unified data by enabling interfacing with all agri-data sources from on-the-field farm management apps, IoT devices, mechanization data from farming resources, drones in agriculture, remote sensing satellite information, weather data, and many more.                                                      


Access to field-tested machine learning models

Cropin Intelligence enables access to over 22 of Cropin’s contextual deep-learning AI models to help agri-businesses with insights and predictive intelligence. Built using the world's largest crop knowledge graph, these models have been field-tested and deployed worldwide while being fine-tuned to work with a range of specific crop varieties, conditions, and locations.

Abishek Keerthi Narayan

About the Author

A results-driven and strategic leader with over 18 years of experience in customer success, SaaS, management consulting and technology enablement. Proven track record of implementing customer-centric strategies to realize the key business outcomes of clients. Strong leader with a track record of building and scaling high-performing teams. Passionate about solving customer problems, creating value, and driving success.