A common digital language to make life easier for producers, create cooperation and develop short food chains

Context

  • With the development of food technology, more and more short food supply chain services operate thanks to web platforms: production monitoring, plot management, management of product catalogs, online sales via e-commerce tools, invoicing, accounting, etc.
  • Today, these tools generally operate in a silo logic and despite the existence of a few APIs (expensive to maintain), they do not communicate enough with each other (they are not “interoperable” enough). Consequently, the actors of the food system are confronted with problems of stock management and with numerous manual operations to compensate for these inter-platform miscommunication.

CHALLENGES & PRACTICAL EXAMPLES

#1  : STOCK MANAGEMENT

A market gardener, Marcel, sells his vegetables to a buying group “Earth friends” which has a web platform (website), on which Marcel manages his online product catalog.

Now imagine that another purchasing group, “Friends of the fields”, also wishes to distribute Marcel’s products via its own web platform.

How does Friends of the fields access Marcel’s catalog?

Today, the solutions are far from ideal:

1 – Marcel has to enter the same data on both platforms, leading to a waste of time and complicated inventory and order management.

2 – AFriends of the fields can use the catalog available at Earth friends (if there is an existing API for example). There are then issues of stock synchronicity (error problems due to non-instantaneous synchronizations), data reliability, as well as security. It gives also more power to one platform over another.

#2 : MISSED COOPERATIONS

Let’s take again the example of Marcel, the market gardener.

He has produced a large stock of leeks, which he is trying to sell quickly. He made them available in his catalog on one platform.

Meanwhile, another organization that delivers collective catering with products from short food chains is precisely looking for leeks. But this aorganization uses another platform, which Marcel did not update. The organization therefore does not know about the availability of Marcel’s leeks and the transaction cannot be carried out.

#3 : NO COOPERATION IN LOGISTICS

Today, logistics cooperation can be done within the same platform, but between platforms, it remains complicated because there is no communication between them.

As an example, Marcel, who manages his product catalog on one platform, must deliver this Friday to a CSA which operates in a village located 20km from his home.
He takes care of the delivery himself with his van and the van is not completely full that Friday.

On her way to the village, beekeeper Sophie, who uses another platform, must also deliver honey to the shop in the same village on Friday.

As Marcel and Sophie do not use the same platform, and they do not communicate with each other, they are not informed of the opportunity to share delivery.

So everyone plans to travel with a half-full vehicle. If the platforms communicated this information to each other, Marcel could have been informed of Sophie’s delivery, put his honeypots in his van and deliver them. This would have saved time, money and would have avoided an additional vehicle driving (benefits in terms of road traffic and CO2 emissions).