Friday, December 17, 2010


Information Technology has become so omnipotent that there is practically no field of human activity which is untouched by this powerful tool. In the food area use of electronics and advanced computing systems have made it easier to increase productivity, improve quality and safety of foods and improve management efficiency. The ultimate in electronics, the robots are likely to be normal fixtures in the production floor of many food processing companies in not too distant a future. Digital technology has enabled consumers to make informed choice of the foods they can buy and derive maximum benefits. Advances in mobile telephony are slated to empower the consumers to obtain important information about the products available on the super market shelves for comparison of various products and choose the best suiting to individual requirement vis-à-vis nutrition and health.

"The back story of a particular food item is valuable to consumers, too, for reasons such as managing health to being able to make moral or ethical judgments. As the Christian Science Monitor recently noted, "every gadget, piece of food, or article of clothing comes with a back story." There is already a growing movement to quantify data about the way we live - and eat. From web apps like Health Month (which enables you to set health goals and track them over a month, including dietary goals) to the self-explanatory TweetWhatYouEat. These apps will become much more sophisticated once food businesses give consumers data from the supply chain. The web site The Quantified Self, run by Gary Wolf and Kevin Kelly, has more tips and tools for consumers who wish to track and manage the data about their lives. As a diabetic (type 1), I'm more careful than most people about what I eat. So I can't wait for the day when I'll be able to scan a food item with my smart phone and find out if it's a healthier option for me than a competing product. This is a huge opportunity for the food industry. Compete on the quality of the data you provide; and win. Let us know in the comments if you've spotted some early examples of food companies utilizing sensor or similar data".

Consumer of to day is much more worried about the safety of foods they buy and eat and digital technology is providing the required tools to monitor the history of supply chain of any product to get a feeling of confidence before buying them. It is a paradox that in spite of such powerful tools at the disposal of the industry and the consumer, there is a perceptible trend of the consumer shifting his loyalty to locally grown produce and locally made foods. While green house gas emission is certainly a factor, it may be more due to the inability of the organized commercial food producers to gain the confidence of the people because of the perception that industry does not care for consumer health, their focus being profitability "at any cost". Unless this issue is addressed no technology can come to the rescue of the industry.


No comments: