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How the Internet of Things is changing the face of the food supply chain

Over the next few years, the pressure to deliver the global requirement for food will intensify. Mounting demand will burden all within the food supply chain to increase production volumes, reduce wastage and shorten the time frame for delivery. These pressures are likely to strain compliance efforts and enforcement, putting food safety at risk.

Luckily, new technologies, such as the Internet of Things (IoT) can be used to help support the food supply chain ensure food safety is met to a high standard all the way from farm to fork.

How the Internet of Things can help the food supply chain

Recent research commissioned by Rentokil Initial and carried out by research and analysis company Quocirca, looks at the various areas where the internet of things will enable the food supply chain to gain maximum benefits from new technologies.

The research was based on interviews with 400 respondents who had responsibility for the management of food safety and hygiene across Australia, China, the UK and US.

The following questions were focused on:

  1. Challenges in managing an increasingly complex food supply chain
  2. Perceptions around the current and future impact of the IoT on food supply chain organisations
  3. Emerging themes across the food supply chain using IoT
  4. How organisations can prepare for the changes IoT will bring

What our research into the coming impact of the IoT found:

Among the findings around the impact of the internet of things recorded, we discovered how the Internet of Things is already being used in areas such as food processing and food retail, as well as the current perception/knowledge around this new technology.

As the food supply chain becomes increasingly complex, concerns among respondents regarding security and data privacy, and a lack of understanding around cloud computing are on the rise.

81% of respondents are either expecting the Internet of Things to impact their organisation or have already felt its impact in terms of food safety

The Internet of Things: From farm to fork, Rentokil Initial

However 37% of respondents have no real knowledge (or very basic knowledge) of IoT. This demonstrates a significant awareness gap within the food industry and therefore a requirement to bridge that gap quickly.

Less than 3% of respondents expect to deploy more than a thousand IoT enabled devices in the coming 24 months. Many of the businesses in the food supply chain are already utilising IoT technologies in some shape or form with some respondents already utilising it without knowing. With this mind,  there is a need for education on what IoT means for their business, rather than just technical terms.

Despite the move to cloud-based technologies, which has made IoT cheaper, overall adoption of the Internet of Things is far from mature. Many organisations feel that it can provide benefits in conjunction with pest management and hand hygiene.

The Internet of Things has the potential to transform operations and generate new data in discrete areas of the supply chain, helping to reduce contamination and improve food safety.

What does the future hold for the Internet of Things and the food supply chain?

Clearly, the interest and appetite in learning more about the Internet of Things and how the supply chain can benefit from this new technology is there. This is also coupled with the belief and understanding that the overall impact it can have on food safety is a positive one.

Download our report to find out more around the impact the Internet of Things can have on the global food supply chain.

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