Full-grown maize plants seen in a corn field. Photo by Rafael Henrique/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty ImagesLIGHTROCKET VIA GETTY IMAGES
Imagine tracking every piece of your Caesar salad from the wheat that became croutons to the seeds that turned into romaine lettuce. This is becoming a reality in the food supply chain with the adoption of new technology, and it is increasing food safety. In a recent interview, Allison Kopf, CEO and founder of Artemis, shared more.
Artemis is a company that provides a Cultivation Management Platform (CMP) to enterprise horticulture facilities. The CMP helps them manage their people, plants, processes and compliance in one place with the goal of increasing profit margins and reducing risk. These enterprises include multi-acre farms that grow crops such as fruits, vegetables, flowers and hemp. Artemis' customers have generated $5 billion in revenue and have grown more than 800 crop varieties.
"Our platform gives these facilities the bird’s eye view of operations needed to manage productivity and compliance from seed to harvest in what is traditionally a high-risk, low-margin business. Our CMP makes it easy to monitor and manage large, multi-site operations, with a heavy focus on the risk and compliance management side of the profit equation. Without an ERP (enterprise resource planning) solution, growers leave their business open to risk every day. Without a CMP, they leave their production open to risk they cannot afford. This is where Artemis comes into play," Kopf says.
Artemis: Tasks TimelineARTEMIS
The Artemis CMP works by providing a single pane view of large-scale horticulture operations. It allows them to do things like plan workflow and daily tasks, register crop batches, enable traceability of crops through the supply chain, manage workers, automate work logs for food safety and crop compliance and leverage data insights to increase workforce efficiency and crop productivity. Artemis fills the gap that existing ERP solutions do not cover and integrates easily with other software that an enterprise horticulture facility uses for things like climate control, shipping/logistics, accounting, CRM and point of sale commerce.
"We are focused not only on tracking data but on also making that data accessible and functional for the growers we work with. Users can track all of their operations and production data remotely from a desktop, tablet or smartphone," Kopf shares.
Technology helps farms create a true record of traceability. With Artemis, if an incident occurs, the farm would be able to trace the crop back to its original seed date and location. It could see who handled the product at various stages throughout its cycle, spot every data point associated with the crop and recall any other product with similar conditions proactively to minimize any impact of the recall. This also allows the farm to understand what happened to cause the incident and identify hazards to crop health before it is too late in the future.
"The ever-increasing complexity of the food supply chain has put food safety in the spotlight globally. Within horticulture, which is just a small segment of the larger agriculture and food industry, the romaine E. coli scare in 2018 drew massive public attention to the topic of food and produce safety. Consumers getting sick has negative repercussions to businesses across the entire food chain, from growers to suppliers to restaurants to retail chains," Kopf says.
According to the United Nations, contaminated food makes 600 million people sick and kills 420,000 people every year. Technology is playing a larger role in food safety, both in detection and prevention, but it is also enabling seed-to-harvest visibility and traceability in the event something happens, and there is a food recall.
"Companies like Scanit Technologies have completely changed the way growers detect crop pathogens by enabling the automatic, proactive detection of airborne diseases. A lot of the manual logging of things like environmental changes, pests, diseases and other things that can affect food safety has been digitized today. What a CMP does is unify all of the data across processes where any risk is involved and makes the data accessible and actionable in one place. Now, rather than waiting weeks for lab test results, growers can make real-time changes," Kopf explains.
Technology will continue to play a larger role in food safety and related compliance issues in the future. It does not matter what you grow or how you grow it because all crop production is vulnerable to factors that can affect food safety in adverse ways. Tech makes monitoring and adjusting to these situations faster and more effective.