There was a fantastic variety of topics at CleanTechIQ's Food and Agriculture Innovation Forum. Innovation ideas were discussed by everyone from small independent farms to giant corporations like Cargill. There was an entire panel on urban farming, followed by a deep discussion on aquaculture and precision agriculture.
One panel that fueled a lot of conversation discussed the place of venture capitals in the current food tech world, as well as the spaces they're looking at for the future. This discussion focused on financing and partnering with urban farms, an idea that has been picking up steam throughout the year. The cofounders and CEO's of Gotham Greens, Aerofarms, Freightfarms spoke with representatives from WP Global Partners and Generate Capital about the challenges in balancing growth and the actual flavor of what that growth is based on.
We were delighted to moderate a panel focused on supply chains with an emphasis on blockchain technology, food safety, and traceability. Along with BlueCart's very own Paul Lang, Oliver Meeker from IBM and Phillip Harris, the founder of Ripe.io joined Paul in adding to the supply chain conversation. Both Meeker and Harris gave presentations about blockchain technology and tracing your food back to it's source, a trend which food operators have started marketing to consumers.
Some statistics from a recent FAO report show the importance of investing early into food and agriculture innovation:
By the year 2050
- 2/3 people will live in urban areas
- Crop, livestock, and fish stocks will be threatended by climate change (if it continues to advance at its current pace)
- 1/3 of all food produced will be wasted, resulting in unnecessary costs for farmers
- Demand for food will grow to compensate for the projected global population size of 9.7 billion
During our panel, we drilled into the long-ignored hospitality industry when it came to modern technology. Software companies, like BlueCart, are the real link between these supply chains and their customers. And for a number of reasons it's still a pen and paper world. Be it hesitancy to adapt or the "if it ain't broke don't fix it" mentality, many business owners are slow to implement modern tools to help drive their business.
One concept that every expert agreed upon at the end of the Food and Agriculture Innovation Forum was the idea of inevitability. We all know the world is headed in this eco-centric direction and that every link in the supply chain is just as important as the other. It's just a matter of chefs, farmers, distributors, and wholesalers adapting to leverage the tools at their fingertips.