Report Open Access

Digital collaboration in the food and drink production supply chain

Stephen Brewer; Pearson, Simon; Pauli, Michelle; Leveson-Gower, Henry; Frey, Jeremy; Maull, Roger; Zisman, Andrea; Parr, Gerard; Bidaut, Luc

This short report presents an overview of some of the ways that pioneers are exploring the digitalisation of the food production supply chain

People have always collaborated in creating, processing and consuming food. These collaboration activities are becoming ever more necessary as we respond to complex challenges such as the climate crisis and food security. With the advent of Industry 4.0, it is clear that digital technologies offer the potential to transform how we respond to this complexity.

How do we capitalise on these examples and move forward? If we can harness the enthusiasm of such innovators, we can tackle the big challenges and deliver potential solutions. At the Internet of Food Things Network Plus we will be coordinating further research, hosting workshops and publishing reports that examine in more detail the role of digital collaboration in 21st-century food supply chain.

In order to help prepare for the future, we thought it would be useful to examine the present: what are the dominant models in existence today supporting digital collaboration in the food and drink sector? What are the blockers to greater digital collaboration?

Based on a series of interviews conducted during spring 2019 in the UK and other European countries, we have identified a range of different digital collaboration settings, together with a number of key blockers to greater collaboration. This preliminary work enables us to set out a roadmap for the research needed to deepen our understanding of these digital collaboration settings and behaviour patterns, and explore how they may be improved to address the wider challenges inherent in the food production supply chain.

Thank you to UKRI-EPSRC grant "The Internet of Food Things" (EP/R045127/1)
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