Day one of EU Fresh Info Forum & Round Table 2015

This year the gathering on the SS Rotterdam is about whether the industry is ready for Horticulture 4.0; a horticulture based on the possibilities of the Internet, combined with technologies like robots, drones and sensors. R. Huirne (Rabobank) and M. Prince (Priva) explained why the horticultural sector needs to get smarter. In short, they say, it is necessary to feed the world, protect Mother Earth and serve consumers. And to simply stay in business! According to Prins, only companies that create their own disruptive innovations will not go bankrupt the next decade. The audience listened attentively.

EU Commissioner M. Campolargo and the trio L. Hermans (Chairman Topsector Horticulture & Propagation Materials), M. Haarman (NLIP) and P. Verbaas (Frugi Venta), presented Horticulture 4.0-examples as Connecterra and the Container Monitor app. Besides that, Australian professor S. Sukkarieh (University of Sydney) showed some very inspiring examples. Mouths dropped open.

Yesterday also revealed that there are still some hurdles to be taken take before the potential of the digital revolution can be fully exploited; the development of algorithms, data privacy, development of standards, convincing data 'huggers' to share them anyway, but especially the adoption of new technological opportunities by entrepreneurs. For the sector it’s still quite a task to get from a paper- based to a data-driven system, according to B. Horsbrugh of the UNIVEG group.

Fortunately there are companies like the Spanish SanLucar (S.L.), who have actually improved their Business Excellence by improving their data management. And there is the example of Albert Heijn. According to R. Limmen, they have found that information sharing is crucial in value chains, for example to speed up the supply chain. Limmen explained that, fort his reason, they have formed tight partnerships with key stakeholders.

At the end of the day it was highlighted where things might lead to. Fruitday is a fruitwebshop for the Chinese market. L. Zhao told the audience that, at one time, they sold 108 tonnes of American cherries within ten days. And there is plenty more where that came from; the Chinese e-commerce market for fresh produce is immense, with a penetration rate of only 1%!

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