Ahead of the virtual World Agri-Tech Innovation Summit, we spoke to Giulia M. Stellari, Director, Sustainable Sourcing Digital and Carbon Solutions at Unilever and Nolan Paul, Partner, Global AgTech Lead at Yamaha Motor Ventures on supply chain transparency and resiliency, tackling food waste and scaling up new partnerships.

Giulia M. Stellari, Director, Sustainable Sourcing Digital and Carbon Solutions, UNILEVER, NETHERLANDS

As the push for greater transparency in supply chains becomes mainstream, how are you working with technology partners to enable visibility and monitor activities on the ground for sustainable sourcing activities? 

Supply chain transparency is essential to be able to monitor impacts and establish accountability in our supply chains. We are working with a variety of partners to achieve supply chain transparency. For example, our work with Orbital Insights is geared towards understanding the links in our supply chain and improve the traceability of our raw materials. Our use of WRI Global Forest Watch enables us to receive deforestation alerts and get visibility of the most problematic areas.

How has the pandemic triggered a need for even greater insights within your supply chain? How will COVID-19 cause a shift in your priorities over the short and long term? What new partnerships or advancements would you like to see?

COVID-19 has brought to the forefront the need for real time visibility in supply chains. Understanding the physical movement of goods and their origins is equally applicable to managing supply chain resilience as it is to monitoring sustainability. The same technologies can serve multiple purposes.

Nolan Paul, Partner, Global AgTech Lead, YAMAHA MOTOR VENTURES, USA

Yamaha Motor Ventures recently invested in Strella Biotechnology, where do you see the most promising technologies to tackle waste emerging at the pre-harvest, post-harvest stage? What new landscape is emerging and where are the greatest needs for innovation? How is the pandemic set to drive further momentum in this space?

The most promising innovations are occurring at the intersection of pre-harvest, harvest, and post-harvest. To really tackle food waste and to further deliver higher quality and fresher products, we need to optimise across the entire value chain. It is not easy to deploy technologies across highly siloed and fragmented segments of the market, as is the case with the food and agriculture industry, but those that can do it will be highly rewarded.

How are technologies being pushed and pulled through the supply chain? What appetite are you seeing from the farm to retail for greater collaboration and what are the key barriers to adoption?

The biggest barrier to implementing technologies across the supply chain is aligning incentives. In most cases, the biggest pull comes from the retailer since they have the most to gain. They clearly benefit from a more transparent and data-rich value chain, whether that be better inventory management and product segmentation. However, unless a grower or a packer/processor will directly benefit from that value creation, there is little incentive for them to collect and provide that data downstream.

Both experts will be joining the virtual World Agri-Tech Innovation Summit on September 15-16, with Giulia speaking on the panel: ‘Radical Transparency in the Food Supply Chain Powered by Technology’ and Nolan chairing a session on ‘Taking a Fresh Approach to Tackle Food Waste and Drive Quality Upstream.’