Food is About To Get Informative

Digitization. We are hearing this word a lot lately and we’ll be hearing it even more over time. It brings to mind a number of topics: Internet-of-Things, Digital Marketing, Big Data, Analytics, 3D Printing… to name a few. smartphone189472319202edit

This post is a quick summary of how this might apply to your food. The short answer is “countless ways”. Let’s take for example apps that already exist to help you count calories, log nutrition content, rate your food choices, etc., all by scanning the bar code on many foods. This used to be limited to packaged and/or processed foods, but as we know, we are starting to see the code stickers show up on individual pieces of fruit at our grocers.

I have found this capability helpful, thought provoking and even worrying. For example, one popular app I road tested rated foods and downgraded ones that used GMO crops. My point is, apps can be available for use without necessarily being scientifically vetted.

This goes well beyond just food apps, but let’s not allow that to detract from the digital movement and the impact on your food chain. Companies will be using these same bar codes (or QR codes, or RFID tags) to provide or automate your access to a full spectrum of information.

Digital marketing will provide full access to product literature, use optimization, etc. We will eventually enable the full “pedigree” of your food to come from this digital information… not only from field to fork but all of the components that went to the field to enable crop production.

So, imagine one day the box of cereal or loaf of bread in your pantry having information that allows you to know what acre of farmland your oats came from, the seed variety used, the crop protection program used, etc. As well as, the grain co-op, the distributor, the food manufacturer, the grocer and the dates of those various steps in the supply chain.

There are many benefits of this kind of information which will be driven by the economic interest of the various stakeholders and also by you… to ensure a safer and secure food supply chain. And, all of that data across the food supply chain will enable big-data analytics on a scale and scope we can barely imagine.

The forces of cheaper data memory, higher computation speed, cloud computing, more bandwidth, more sensors and combinatorial innovation will increasingly come together to enable amazing insight.

One day, your food app will talk to your treadmill, which will inform your personal trainer (that may be virtual), who will then talk with your doctor (that may also be virtual) to facilitate an even higher quality of life. Say “welcome” to digitization!

KrkoskaJoeJoe Krkoska has been with Dow for 33 years, starting in Dow R&D in Midland, before having numerous Manufacturing assignments in various businesses. He and his family relocated to the UK King’s Lynn location for 4 years where he was Site Leader and BML, and then moved to our Pittsburg, CA site before coming to Indy. Joe is currently Global Supply Chain Director for DAS Crop Protection.