This is the first time in history where Agriculture and the Food sector are part of the same “table.” Advances in mobile technology have been instrumental in allowing producers to gain access and visibility of the consumer chain. Food organizations have taken notice and recently taken action to expand their knowledge into product origination by partnering with farmers to increase transparency while helping improve production practices.
- Starbucks moving closer to farmers practice by acquiring a coffee farm in Costa Rica and developing an experimental lab out of its investment;
- Cargill departing away from its traditional merchant position, arbitraging data as its core business, into developing Food products and technology to enhance margins and consumer visibility through data;
- Farmers in both Latin and North America looking beyond the traditional Coop relationships now looking to cooperate amongst themselves as a “Farmers JVs” in order to gain scalability and explore new market channels;
- Verizon Wireless hiring for the first time a senior executive to develop the Agriculture sector by exploring broadband opportunities for Rural US areas
- The rapid expansion of US Farmers Markets (Chart below);
As this industry moves quickly to eliminate geographic boundaries, it is the consumers perception associated to quality and environmental impact that will dictate the future of this newly shaped ecosystem. Data is at the core of this newly established engagement.
We need to do a much better job communicating Agriculture reality to consumers. Consumer trust was once associated to Worldwide established brands. If you have ever travelled to remote or unsafe areas of the world you know exactly what I’m talking about. Your local “sherpa” used to advise you to drink Coca Cola instead of the local tap water for safety reasons. Trust has recently moved into data. Look no further than the amount of information contained on a package label.
Only a true partnership between the 02 ends of the supply chain will create a sustainable future for the entire ecosystem. Agriculture 2.0 is truly about “Agriculture without Borders”
But expanding your data science footprint alone is not going to allow you to “cross the bridge.” You need an individual that connects data science and business needs through a narrative. “Narrative is an extremely powerful human contrivance and one of the most underutilized in data science. The ability to present data insights as a story will, more than anything else, help close the communication gap between algorithms and executives.” (Harvard Business Review Article: “Data Science and the Art of Persuasion”
Data with a Purpose
Story telling through data visibility, transparency and engagement will create product dependability. This is the right problem to solve. I look forward to the day when a package exists not solely to enhance a brands value but to bring farmers into the product storytelling as a partnership recognition, while it may also educate consumers and advocate a much deeper and rich story. Let’s commit to continue to improve practices while improving our storytelling through data conversations.