Can technology help us to feed the world?

How to work together to produce safe and sustainable food

 

Around one in nine people on earth do not have enough food to lead a healthy, active life. And in the next 50 years as diets become richer, experts estimate that to feed a population of 9bn people, more food will have to be produced than has been during the past 10,000 years in total. Combined with the challenges of climate change, water scarcity, and biodiversity degradation; not to mention the impact of antibiotic use in livestock and antibiotic resistance; and new and emerging pathogens – the outlook appears bleak.

 

The food industry has the most complex supply chain – being both global and highly fragmented at the same time. Given this degree of complexity, it is difficult for food producers to have good visibility beyond their first tier of suppliers and they are unlikely to have any direct sight of the farmers and fisheries at the primary production stage. At this level, a large food brand may be supplied by hundreds of thousands of small suppliers, who are totally out of reach. We live in an era when food safety scares and sustainability scandals can rightly go viral on social media in a matter of hours, with long reaching consequences for the individuals affected and for the brands involved; it’s time for the food industry to find a new model to address these challenges.

 

To produce the food needed safely and sustainably, the food industry needs to build greater resilience and security into its systems. Effective assurance services and enhanced transparency throughout the supply chain can form a solid foundation to achieving this. However, the assurance industry also faces challenges, including a lack of qualified auditors in emerging markets – often the very markets where food production is expected to grow in the coming years. And, the traditional audit model is based on auditors traveling to client sites, where they often spend a large proportion of their time reviewing documents. Don’t get me wrong, this has been an effective way to provide independent third party assurance and continues to ensure confidence in food safety and sustainability. However, given the developments in communications and technology, it seems high time to review our food safety and sustainability assurance business model to take advantage of these developments to work in a more collaborative and efficient way.

 

Possible solutions

 

A new model is possible; LRQA has recently delivered remote audits in Iraq and Afghanistan. With no possibility to send an auditor into these conflict zones, LRQA’s technical experts developed specific procedures to conduct remote audits in extraordinary circumstances that were reviewed by the accreditation body UKAS. Our lead auditor interacted with the client and a local subcontractor by using webcams, video conferencing and phone to carry out the audit to the same rigorous standards as if they had been there in person.

 

Remote assessment and greater transparency in the supply chain have been made possible thanks to disruptive technologies. To support this vision, LRQA has recently announced adoption of greenfence platform technology. Based in Silicon Valley, greenfence is the first platform technology serving the Testing, Inspection and Certification (TIC) marketplace – connecting everyone from large retailers and certification bodies, to global scheme owners and farmers.

 

The platform is supported by some of the world’s largest food manufacturers and is capable of mapping the entire food supply chain of existing connections and certifications. We expect that it will improve supply chain confidence with greater coverage and visibility, enabling producers to analyse the data more easily to target existing and potential risks more effectively. The assurance business model will then move from a retrospective focus to predictive insight – from what went wrong, to what is likely to go wrong. From an assurance perspective, our services powered by the greenfence platform should address a variety of challenges such as; enabling global traceability and transparency, delivering online assessments to thousands of clients within a short period of time as well as the possibility to benchmark, enabling the assessment of suppliers who are out of reach through traditional audits, overcoming the issues of lack of auditors and geographic limitations, delivering a truly global management of the food supply chain, and reducing audit costs for clients.

 

Registration on the platform is free and increases the ability to interact with other parts of the supply chain, which will enable more effective and efficient processes. Additional services will include the authentication of existing certificates (for any scheme) as well as various levels of remote assessment, which will enable benchmarking of suppliers and easier risk identification. Remote assessment will not replace on-site audits but will complement them, for example, to pre-assess risks in the supply chain to target on-site audits where there is the biggest perceived risk or to enable compliance to basic standards at an affordable level for very small suppliers.

 

This development fits well with the Lloyd’s Register Foundation’s mission to enhance the safety of life and property. Most organisations do something to make money but at Lloyd’s Register, we make money to do something, as a percentage of our profits go towards the Foundation. Indeed, we envisage that the flexibility provided by this platform and accessible throughout the supply chain will help small farmers in emerging markets to improve their communications, logistics, access to training, exposure to the food market, as well as access to credit markets. Initiatives to connect farmers run by Nestlé in Central America and by Vodafone in East Africa have proven to be highly effective in the fight against world hunger and it is hoped that the greenfence platform will have a similarly positive impact.

 

Scaling up

 

Ultimately, the platform aims to consolidate big data from the supply chain including Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) and Global Positioning System (GPS) data from transportation, lab results, drones, and on-site webcams to enable real time compliance monitoring with automatic alerts to clients in the case of any nonconformity.

 

Food safety is non-competitive, and the greenfence platform is no different. To gain the critical mass needed to create real transparency it will need to be used by all parties in the food supply chain, driven by the large food processors. This is the first project of its kind with a holistic aim to enable collaboration to support the changes needed in the global food industry. 

 

As we continue to address innovative ways of providing assurance to the global food supply chain, to enable the sector to continue to feed the world safely and sustainably, this can only be a positive step.

 

Vincent Doumeizel is Vice President  - Food, Beverage & Sustainability at Lloyd’s Register Group. 

 

 

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Press release: The TripAdvisor of energy management has been launched

The TripAdvisor of energy management, The Curve today represents the largest collection of user generated data of real time energy projects across sectors.  Similarly to other user generated platforms such as TripAdvisor, it collects information on energy efficiency investments and helps users to benchmark their costs in order to make better investment decision.  

 

Jim Woods, CEO at The Crowd (the incubator behind the Curve), said “The journey began in 2014, with the question ‘How can we help to tackle the market failure in corporate energy management?’ We estimate that over 40% of commercially attractive energy projects, which are largely synonymous with carbon reduction projects, are unrealised each year.  In the UK alone, that’s well over £1bn worth of missed investments, which matters in an era of climate change”.

 

Platforms have been extraordinarily successful at tackling market failures in other markets – TripAdvisor has brought new efficiency to the travel market, Airbnb has almost single-handedly built a new global market for home stays, and Uber has becoming the clearing house for taxi drivers. Platforms have become one of the most disruptive forces in today’s economy.

 

“We set out to build the TripAdvisor for Energy Management”, says Woods. “It is quite a radical project. Our first challenge was to see if companies were prepared to share business case information, as we couldn’t find a precedent in any other business areas. All the examples we looked at were in consumer-facing markets”. Today, with over 100 companies having uploaded anonymised energy projects to the Curve, from lighting to renewable energy, this challenge has largely been overcome. 

 

The companies who have uploaded data come from a wide range of sectors, including BAE Systems, BT, Capgemini, Heathrow, Jaguar Land Rover, The Crown Estate, Toyota, Unilever, Walgreens Boots Alliance, and WPP. There are over 650 projects in the Curve today, with a combined investment value of over £500m.

 

As the journey has evolved, the Curve’s next challenge is to see if this information can make a meaningful impact on energy strategies and move to the “Advisor” stage. The Curve team have realised that Artificial Intelligence is the end game, which could revolutionise corporate energy programmes. By adding an algorithm, the Curve can hold key information about your company – the projects you’ve run to date, your site types and your CFO’s hurdle rate etc. – against the market. It can start to advise you on projects that should work, and key information such as market return data, the best suppliers, and draw conclusions from the user comments.

 

Just as TripAdvisor, sharing and collaboration are at the heart of this project. “We’re the originators of the Curve, but we’re working with a great many industry experts to make sure we make as few mistakes as we can” says Woods. “We see this as a new way of working with our community of 10,000 experts, and is a model we’re using with our other mission-led incubation projects.”

 

 

Additional information

 

The data collected

The Curve collects around 15 data points for each energy project, mainly on the business case, with the company name being anonymised when it enters the visible database. The key data points are; site type, technology area (lighting, control, wind, transport etc.), amount invested, the payback, a star rating for the project, comments and any recommended suppliers. This information then becomes available to everyone through the search capability, allowing people to see aggregate data and individual project data.

 

About The Crowd

The Crowd is best known for its monthly sustainability event, the Crowd Forum, which has met 92 times with 16,000 people taking part. In April 2015 The Crowd added an incubation capability, to explore tech-based solutions for corporate sustainability, funded by a £450k fundraise through Crowdcube. The two incubations are the Curve and Co:create, an open strategy platform designed to empower sustainability teams in large organisations.

 

 

The Curve platform is currently open to try and use, and it’s free. More details can be found here: http://thecurve.me/

For any press requirements please contact Elina Yumasheva at elina@thecrowd.me or on +44(0)20 7160 9864. 

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Press release: The TripAdvisor of energy management has been launched

The Curve, The TripAdvisor of energy management

The TripAdvisor of energy management, The Curve today represents the largest collection of user generated data of real time energy projects across sectors.  Similarly to other user generated platforms such as TripAdvisor, it collects information on energy efficiency investments and helps users to benchmark their costs in order to make better investment decision.  


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