Global food wastage could be reduced by 20% by the year 2025 and by 50% the end of the next decade according to the UK based Internet of Things (IoT) technology company Eseye. It says that by transforming manufacturer supply chains with billions of connected devices, food dilapidation occurring during transport and through farming inefficiencies could be eradicated.
According to the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAOUN), 1.6bn tons of food is currently lost or wasted every year, equating to $1.2 trillion. As such the United Nations has set a target of reducing 50% of food wastage by 2030.
However, Eseye believes this could be achieved sooner with the use of IoT circuits, batteries, and cellular connectivity printed onto flexible labels. The company says that these labels, when placed on food items, would enable complete real-time visibility of the entire supply chain, and provide instant monitoring of location, temperature and humidity data.
Nick Earle, CEO of Eseye, said: “IoT has the power to dramatically overhaul the way we grow and transport the world’s food. With a growing population and finite resources on our planet, we must become more efficient and end wastage.
“By connecting every single part of the supply chain, we can grow, pick and ship only what we need, and then better care for that produce to ensure it reaches the fork unharmed.”
Smart Farming to Reduce Loss After Harvest
The UN says that around 14% of the world’s food is lost after harvest and before reaching shops and markets, largely due to inefficiencies in farming practice. Eseye says this can be prevented through real-time data tracking using sensors which measure the properties of fruit and vegetables such as colour, size and shape, while they are still growing.
This information helps to control growing conditions, such as water supply, and accurately determines the best harvest date. The data can thus meaningfully reduce the amount of stock that is lost before it even enters the supply chain.
“IoT has traditionally been centred around big-ticket items such as machinery and consumer goods and electricals, but new technologies are making smaller sensors economically viable on a massive scale,” said Earle.
Current Mobile Network Model Not Fit for Purpose
Eseye says the main barrier to overcome before smart farming technology can function properly is the current mobile network system. A tracking label as described would need to move through multiple countries and have data accessed by multiple organisations.
Seamless and intelligent cellular IoT connectivity, which enables automatic switching between multiple mobile networks depending on which has the best coverage, is needed to ensure that this technology is viable in the long term. But devices are currently tied to a single network operator, which Eseye says is not fit for purpose for mass IoT deployment.
Earle said: “The current mobile network model is not fit for purpose. We need mobile operators to work together to enable devices to connect seamlessly anywhere in the world in a way that gives them the best possible connection, regardless of network provider.”