Technology & Market trends in Horticulture and Post-harvest opportunities
Market Trends in Horticulture/Vegetables indicate that crop concepts have changed from subsistence to self-sufficiency and are now taking a stride on superfood concepts. The driving force being the food trends and health needs. Several studies
indicate predictions for the top food trends that will shape the fresh produce market.
A focus on health and longevity: Consumers increasingly see a correlation between what they eat, how they feel, and their health needs. Products with specific health components such as broccoli, kale, and several leafy assortments have become more popular, and named “superfoods.” The marketing for these niche products is growing, provoking a sales boom.
Convenience/comfort foods: Though the comfort foods are uptrending, ‘better for you’ foods are selling well. Healthy snacking is on the rise, with “grabbing and going” becoming the norm. Additionally, it is expected that the plant-based diet movement will keep growing. Meat substitution products are expected to reach a USD 2.5 billion value by 2023.
The popularity of fresh and natural: Plant-to-plate concept is a new trend. Urban gardening is scaling up as the fascination for fresh and natural is growing.
Retail success determined by quality: According to the 2019 Fruit Logistica trend report, consumers are selecting the place to buy their groceries based on the quality of the store’s fresh food. The survey also showed evidence that customers satisfied with the store’s fresh food quality would visit 7% more frequently than those who are not. Additionally, consumers are willing to pay more for higher-quality fresh produce and their average basket will be 24% larger. This demonstrated the increased importance of fresh fruit and vegetables for the profitability of food retail business, over space expansion and promotion share, for driving sales.
Success of digital platforms: The pandemic has shown the immense value of digital tools and agriculture. The fact that systematic application of digital tools can support sustainable production & timely supply, especially when food production and supply involves millions of smallholder farmers, has been proven beyond doubt. Indian agricultural ecosystem has undoubtedly changed a lot since agritech startups started center stage working on solutions that focus on maximizing productivity, increasing supply chain efficiency, and improving market linkages. B2B platforms are emerging as an essential disruptive practice in the agriculture industry, focusing on supply chain efficiency
Sustainability: According to a report by the Retail Industry Leaders Association (RILA), 93% of global consumers expect the brands they use to support social and environmental issues.
Innovative disruptions: As it is said “Necessity is the mother of invention”, the recent pandemic has pushed some farmers to come up with innovative use of produce during lockdown due to pandemic.
Post-Harvest Technology (PHT): PHT is an integral part of the food chain. It starts from harvesting, grading, cleaning, packing, shipping, till it reaches the plate of the intended consumer. I would say, this is an area of tremendous potential and there are ample opportunities and scope for research. Integration of agritech can enhance the success of PHT.
Agricultural Technology (AgTech): The fourth revolution has reshaped the context of agricultural technology (AgriTech) with applications of artificial intelligence (AI) and a strong focus on data-driven analytical techniques.
Optimal solutions for sustainability could be viewed through the applications of smart and precision techniques in agrarian operations (for the problems associated with the arable land and environmental efficiency).
Precision farming: After the Green and Gene revolution, the world is all set for the Brown revolution. In the US the work has already started, where soil samples are being mapped, balanced nutrient, irrigation regime recommended. This kind of precision
agriculture has led to a yield increase to 11 Tons/ha (India-2.5t/ha).
- Purchasing quality inputs like seeds, fertilizers can be enabled online. (mostly seeds)
- Mobile apps like EWS Plant doctor online, Plantix are providing solutions for crop agronomy and disease and pest management.