The COVID-19 pandemic has a tremendous effect on the food supply chain. The production cycles and transportation logistics faced significant delays or breakdowns. The supplies have been in shortage, as fewer quantities have been produced or made available in the market. The production, packaging, sales, or service facilities have been locked down due to health outbreaks in their regions of operation.
The lockdowns brought along inevitable disruptions. But they are also shifting demand from traditional, brick-and-mortar channels to digital, e-commerce ones. This creates completely new forms of challenges to the people that try to ensure that safe and healthy food is delivered to consumers around the world.
It has also resulted in a radical digital transformation of the food supply chain.
As part of our EU-funded innovation project “The Food Safety Market”, we are exploring ways in which food safety and quality data exchanges may become more automated, straightforward, and interoperable. The aftermath of the pandemic makes our work even more timely, even more relevant.
As Rob Leclerc from AgFunder recently noted:
Five years of change in our food and ag system will happen in the next five months.
During the lockdown measures, thousands of food safety and quality professionals around the world have been mostly working from home. They have been trying to ensure that the food products of their businesses – food manufacturers, distributors, and retailers – are healthy and safe. This led to a drastic change in the way they do their very important job.
They still need to perform their everyday hygiene and safety monitoring tasks. They often can only rely on digital tools to monitor whether any food safety incidents have occurred in their supply chains. They need to perform fast and efficient supplier audits and facilities inspection using big data and digital software tools, from a distance. Significant data exchange needs to take place in a digital form, through secure and trusted software platforms.
We wanted to understand better which changes we should expect in the near future. We, therefore, reached out to the community, asking distinguished colleagues from a variety of supply chain stakeholders about their opinion:
What is the effect that this pandemic has in terms of digital transformation?
It has evolved into a quite solid discussion about the future of food risk monitoring and prevention – especially in terms of digital technologies and tools.
We would like to thank all the contributors for their valuable opinion pieces.
By this volume, we think that we only offer a glimpse at the wealth and variety of challenges ahead. It, therefore, intends to spark and continue the ongoing conversation on the topic. Hopefully giving us better insights into a future that is already here.
This is why with pride and pleasure we announce the official publication of this discussion paper:
In all the position statements that have been provided, we read the same message: technology has played an important role in enabling business continuity in the new reality.
For sure, the pandemic has forced the entire industry to move to digital transformation in a much shorter time! Let’s keep working on the Food Supply Chain digitization process! Let’s do it together!
After reading the paper, any feedback is kindly appreciated!