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AgTech Webinar

AgTech Webinar: Innovation and technology in food and farming

Globally we are fast-moving more toward a technologized society as the Covid-19 pandemic has shown in medicine, education and the way we work. Agriculture too is at the forefront of this revolution with a fledgling sector called agtech. Farmers challenged by climate change, labor shortage, water and land supply shortage and the depletion of arable land, have already been steadily turning to innovation and technology such as blockchain, automation and robotics.

Come join a special panel moderated by Amy Wu that will feature women entrepreneurs who are creating solutions to help farmers succeed. The panel and discussion will address questions including achieving a balance between technology and human labor, how innovation can solve food supply chain issues, and the ways technology is creating a potential paradigm shift in agriculture.

Presenters:

Pamela (Pam) Marrone spent her career focused on biologically based products for pest management; for the last 30 years in Davis CA, where she started and led three biological crop protection companies. She started Marrone Bio Innovations in 2006 to discover and develop bio-based products for pest management and plant health. The company was listed on NASDAQ in 2013 (MBII), has commercialized 10 products, and is growing rapidly. Pam received the “Sustie” Award from EcoFarm in 2019.

Martha Montoya is CEO and founder of AgTools, which she founded in 2017 as a food supply SaaS platform that provides real-time intelligence to farmers and buyers with the goal of reducing food waste globally. The platform takes into consideration over 75 different market variables from weather to transportation on over 500 different commodities to help growers better plan their crops. The company has 14 employees throughout five offices in the U.S., Mexico and Colombia.

Penelope Nagel is a 9th generation farmer, COO and co-founder of Persistence Data Mining Inc. (PDMI). PDMI is a private company that uses hyperspectral imaging for timely collection of soil data related to spatial variability of soil texture. PDMI has developed algorithms accurately estimating nutrient availability based on hyperspectral data, key to determining where and how much nutrients need to be applied.

Moderator:

Amy Wu is an award-winning writer for the women’s ag and agtech movement. She is the Founder & Chief Content Director of from Farms to Incubators, a multimedia platform that uses documentary, video, photography and the written word to tell the stories of women leaders and innovators in agtech. It has a mission of expanding the profiles of women in food, farming, and tech. The documentary and stories have been screened and presented at SXSW, Techonomy, the Forbes AgTech Summit, EcoFarm and The New Food Economy. Prior to starting From Farms to Incubators, Amy spent over two decades as an investigative reporter at media outfits including the USA Today Network, Time magazine, and she has contributed to The New York Times, HuffPost and Wall Street Journal. She reported on agriculture and agtech for The Salinas Californian in Salinas, Calif. She sits on the Diversity Advisory Committee of EcoFarm.

Categories
Investments Strategy

Brand divestment: Hershey’s plans to sell KRAVE, Scharffen Berger and Dagoba

Hershey is looking to divest its high-flying jerky brand KRAVE along with its artisan chocolates Scharffen Berger and Dagoba, Hershey CEO Michele Buck told analysts. KRAVE, a high-end jerky and meat snack company that Hershey acquired for $220 million in 2015, had failed to meet company’s expectations.

These are great brands that continue to resonate with consumers, but they require a different go-to-market model. These brands are are far more niche with much smaller market shares.

Hershey is best known for its mainstream brands that resonate with a broader segment of consumers. It makes sense for Hershey to focus its attention in areas where it has far more expertise and can promote and innovate the brands to ensure they resonate with a broader-range of consumers. The company needs to better prioritize its resources moving forward.

Read more at NOSH

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Veterinary

Modern Animal, a California startup ready to disrupt Veterinarian business

Modern Animal calls itself a new kind of veterinary clinic for animals and their humans. Steve Eidelman, founder and CEO of Modern Animal, is out to disrupt the veterinary business. Eidelman explains, “We have a system that’s broken, not supporting the consumer in a way all these other industries are. We don’t have a thriving profession”. The average clinic looks ugly, it stinks, wait times are long the staff usually isn’t friendly and the phone is ringing nonstop. The customer experience is not particularly good in a veterinary clinic, and even worse, working as a veterinarian is fraught with difficulties. That’s a threat to all animals in the long term.

Modern Animal proposes to fix all those shortcoming with its first clinic in West Hollywood. It doesn’t look like any veterinary clinic you’ve seen. The Modern Animal clinic is literally transparent, with pet owners able to see all the way from the street to the back of the clinic. Modern Animal requires a membership costing $100 a year. That membership gives the pet owner full access, including 24/7 access via telemedicine.

“Does an animal need this? No, but you do.”

Read more at Forbes

Categories
Agriculture

Despite lockdown, producers didn’t change planting plans in USA

As compared to 2019, planted acreage in 2020 is as follows:

  • Corn Planted Acreage at 97.0 million acres Up 8 Percent
  • Soybean Acreage at 83.5 million acres Up 10 Percent
  • All Wheat Acreage at 44.7 million acres Down 1 Percent
  • All Cotton Acreage at 13.7 million acres Down Less Than 1 Percent

As compared to 2019, grain stocks on March 1, 2020 is as follows:

  • Corn Stocks totaled 7.95 billion bushels Down 8 Percent
  • Soybean Stocks totaled 2.25 billion bushels Down 17 Percent
  • All Wheat Stocks totaled 1.41 billion bushels Down 11 Percent

Read more at USDA Prospective Plantings and Grain Stocks

Categories
Food Loss/Waste

Washington growers have a billion pounds of potatoes that they can’t sell

Washington growers have a billion pounds of potatoes sitting around that they can’t get rid of because restaurants don’t need them. Ninety percent of Washington potatoes go to processors. Due to this lockdown, processors and restaurants are closed. This lead growers to the brink of financial collapse. When all of that shuts down, it has a huge ramification for all the processors and the growers.

There are 4 billion pounds of potatoes already harvested. About 70% of that will be shipped overseas, but that leaves a billion pounds in storage. Those farmers that can sell their product have seen the wholesale price fall below the costs to produce them.

Read more at MyNorthWest.com

Categories
Food Safety

Food safety violations: Chipotle to pay $25 million fine

Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc. will pay $25 million to resolve criminal charges related to the company’s involvement in foodborne illness outbreaks that sickened more than 1,100 people between 2015 and 2018, according to the Department of Justice. This case highlights why it is important for restaurants and members of the food services industry to ensure that managers and employees consistently follow food safety policies. According to the factual statement in the DPA, which the company agreed was true, Chipotle was implicated in at least five foodborne illness outbreaks between 2015 and 2018 connected to restaurants in the Los Angeles area, Boston, Virginia, and Ohio.

For example, in December 2015, a norovirus incident at a Chipotle restaurant in Boston sickened 141 people. In July 2018, approximately 647 people who dined at a Chipotle restaurant in Powell, Ohio reported illness related to Clostridium perfringens, a pathogen that grows rapidly when food is not held at appropriate temperatures.

This incident clearly implicates that the priority to produce food economically and efficiently comes with a strong reason to produce safe food. Losses due to lost revenue in the case of food safety issues may far exceed the cost of maintaining safety. Lost revenues includes a missed opportunity to sell the products, cost of discarded products, business interruption, customer reimbursement and the biggest one is loss of credibility among the consumers.

Read more at AgDaily

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Uncategorized

How Satellites Can Improve Decision-Making For Agricultural Investments

USDA information about crop supply and demand estimates is fundamental to both policy-makers and agricultural investors. Nevertheless, the current situation with markets and crops is changing faster than USDA report releases, especially with the uncertainty around coronavirus pandemics. The uncertainty caused by the outbreak of the COVID-19 reinforces the need for reliable, precise, politically neutral, and promptly available data for investors.

Here’s where digital tools can come in handy.

Geospatial intelligence, supply-and-demand estimates, crop tours, experimental plots, direct contact with grain producers are among the most effective ways to gather much-needed data. Agricultural investing is entering in the ‘remote prediction’ era where the one with superior AI tools has the edge. This is where satellite technologies can close informational gaps – and do it faster than once a month.

Read more at Investing.com

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Uncategorized

‘Apple detectives’ find 10 lost fruit varieties

A team of retirees that scours the remote ravines and windswept plains of the Pacific Northwest for long-forgotten pioneer orchards has rediscovered 10 apple varieties that were believed to be extinct. But the men, who make up the nonprofit Lost Apple Project, won’t see the fruits of their labor this year because of the coronavirus outbreak. Each fall, they collect hundreds of apples from long-abandoned orchards that they find using old maps, county fair records, newspaper clippings and nursery sales ledgers that can tell them which homesteader bought what apple tree and when the purchase happened.

The task is huge. North America once had 17,000 named varieties of domesticated apples, but only about 4,500 are known to exist today. With the 10 latest varieties identified, Brandt and Benscoter have rediscovered a total of 23 varieties. The latest finds include the Sary Sinap, an ancient apple from Turkey; the Streaked Pippin, which may have originated as early as 1744 in New York; and the Butter Sweet of Pennsylvania, a variety that was first noted in a trial orchard in Illinois in 1901.

Read more at APnews

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Uncategorized

Farmer forced to dump 17,000 gallons of milk

Farmers in North Carolina are dumping fresh milk they can’t sell during the coronavirus pandemic. Homeland Creamery supplies milk to restaurants and coffee shops. Many of those establishments are closed. There is a 65-percent decrease in total milk sales. Because there’s no one to buy milk in bulk, Bowman said he has no choice but dump it in a pasture down the road. Bowman said he’s dumped 17,000 gallons of fresh milk since the pandemic began. I would say probably about $160,000 if I had to put a dollar figure on it.

Dumping the milk is the worst. That’s the profit going down the drain.

In the meantime, to keep business afloat, Bowman opened up a drive-thru at his creamery, selling small quantities of milk, homemade ice-cream, and other items.

Read more at WBTV

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Uncategorized

The Supply Chain for Food Is Stressed

The spread of the virus through the food and grocery industry is expected to cause disruptions in production and distribution of certain products as panicked shoppers test supply networks as never before. Industry leaders acknowledge shortages could increase, but they insist it is more of an inconvenience than a major problem. People will have enough to eat; they just may not have the usual variety. The food supply remains robust, they say, with hundreds of millions of pounds of meat in cold storage. You might not get what you want when you want it. Consumers like to have a lot of different choices, and the reality is in the short term, we just don’t have the labor to make that happen.

Laborers who were once considered unskilled are now “essential employees,” even heroes to some, because they are providing the nation with food and other crucial supplies.

Read more at The New York Times