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Direct contact between farmers and consumers

Farmers and consumers don’t have a lot of contact with each other. A few major players situated between them in the food chain determine what is produced and at what price, complicating innovation and sustainability in the process. The issue of sustainable food is also primarily a location issue, which is why Geodan and a number of partners are working on a platform where farmers, consumers and other parties in the chain can come into direct contact with each other: Short Chain 2.0.

Food transition for the entire chain

"Our food system is under pressure", says Theo Thewessen, director at Geodan and lecturer in Location Intelligence at HAS University of Applied Sciences. “The system has to become fairer for farmers, production must be more sustainable and more animal-friendly, and we have to start eating healthier. Moreover, we want to know where our food comes from and what exactly is in it. And, last but not least, we want to produce less waste. These topics relate to the entire chain: from farmers, processors and supermarkets, to the consumer."

"We are currently in a transitional phase, looking for a better system. Farmers, for instance, are trying make their production methods more sustainable with smart farming. With sensors and satellite images and drones, they collect data up to the level of individual plants, for example on the humidity and composition of the soil. Via GPS, this data is accurately linked to the location of the plant. Based on that information, the plants then receive exactly the right amount of nutrients, water, and light, making production much more efficient. Another example is nature-inclusive agriculture. Nature-inclusive production means that farmers not only use nature optimally, but protect and care for it as well."

Theo Thewessen

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Theo Thewessen (portret)

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“This gives farmers more insight into the wishes of the consumer, allowing them to focus on the sustainable production of new niche products"

Theo Thewessen

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Extra demands

Theo continues: "To pick up products from farmers, to collect them and deliver them to the right customer, you need intricate logistics, especially because this process must have the most efficient route, with the least possible impact on the environment. Fresh products impose additional requirements on transport as well. When it comes to these complex logistical issues, our knowledge of and experience with location intelligence let us play a major role. "

By the end of 2018, a proof of principle of the Short Chain 2.0 platform is up for delivery. To that end, Geodan is working together with the HAS University of Applied Sciences, the agricultural and horticultural organization ZLTO, the province of North Brabant and a number of innovative entrepreneurs. You can find more information on onlinefoodbrabant.nl. 

Logistical issues are location issues

New connections are also created in the food chain. Through online concepts, consumers get in touch with farmers in a new way. This creates an alternative for the current, long chain, where a number of large purchasing organizations of supermarkets are in control. They mainly aim for high volume and low prices. Theo: "With a shorter chain, farmers gain more insight into the wishes of the consumer, allowing them to focus on sustainable production of new niche products, for example, and earn more. With new logistics systems, you can also serve the consumer more easily and more directly. For that to happen, farmers will need support when it comes to marketing, IT, and logistics. We’re helping by developing an online platform such as Werkspot, but focused on food instead of jobs around the house: Short Chain 2.0. This is where farmers, consumers, and food handlers come into direct contact with each other. Not in a rigid chain, but in a dynamic network. That way, we work more locally and digitally.”