IBM's 2019 World-changing 5 in 5 List Focused on Food Supply Tech

Find out which 5 new food technologies IBM believes will change the world!


1. Microbe Mapping 

IBM has created a project known as the Consortium for Sequencing the Food Supply Chain. This project is revolutionary since it has currently collected [1] "500 TB of data on bacterial genomes" which helps determine what levels of certain pathogens are safe and unsafe. Using the data from this microbe mapping technology, food safety can be conducted in a faster and more-efficient manner. This is especially important since current methods used to check food safety are relatively old-fashioned, slow and [2] "mostly reactive" instead of being proactive. 


2. Blockchain 

Currently, most restaurants and supermarkets tend to overstock on inventory because not having an item in stock is simply bad for business. However, this leads to a tremendous amount of food waste, lost revenue and inefficiency. One of the main reasons this happens is because [3] "food growers, shippers, packers and sellers are all estimating the demand for different produce based on incomplete information." IBM believes that blockchain can help offset these inefficiencies once the technology is more widely-adopted. [4] "Last October the company launched the IBM Food Trust, designed to give people unprecedented access to consumer data that might inform future decisions." With this blockchain-backed information, it will be much easier to make better-informed future decisions and reduce food wastage. 


3. AI Sensors 

No one likes to deal with bad produce, but with so many stages between farm to fork, it's currently difficult to determine exactly where or when food can go bad. IBM believes that in a few years, the solution to this problem will come in the form of tiny [5] "optical sensors that can sense the wavelengths of substances and infer microscopic details about them." These sensors, integrated with AI technology, will be able to check just about every step of the production process and warn of contaminants that could end up spoiling food. Indeed, [6] "these sensors could be embedded in equipment every step of the way: surfaces and conveyor belts in food processing plants, produce bins in supermarkets, in chopping boards or countertops at home, and even cutlery."


4. Volatile Catalyst (VolCat)

Plastic is a major contributor to environmental degradation and pollution. The problem with plastic is that it doesn't break down quickly, and it isn't biodegradable. However, IBM has started a new project that aims to make recycling plastics far easier. The project is called Volatile Catalyst - or VolCat. [7] "This catalytic chemical process digests polyester materials into a powdery form that can then be fed right back into the plastic manufacturing process." The theory is that petroleum-based plastics will be able to be phased out while other plastics can easily be converted right back into new plastic products with a much lower energy cost. This new type of recycling could lead to there being no need to produce new plastics in the long run. 


5. Virtual Farm Models 

Through the collection of vast amounts of data, IBM is hoping to boost the efficiency of farms all over the globe. [8] "IBM PAIRS - Geoscope is a platform that pulls together data from maps, satellites, weather, drones, and other devices, as well as from the company's other initiatives like the Watson Decision Platform for Agriculture." It is hoped that the data collected will be transformed into virtual farm models allowing [9] "farmers and other people involved in the food supply chain [to] share insights to make farms more efficient." In the long-run, this could lead to new farming techniques, better harvests and greater farming efficiency. 


[1] https://newatlas.com/ibm-2019-5in5-food-supply/58434/

[2] https://newatlas.com/ibm-2019-5in5-food-supply/58434

[3] https://newatlas.com/ibm-2019-5in5-food-supply/58434

[4] https://newatlas.com/ibm-2019-5in5-food-supply/58434

[5] https://newatlas.com/ibm-2019-5in5-food-supply/58434

[6] https://newatlas.com/ibm-2019-5in5-food-supply/58434

[7] https://newatlas.com/ibm-2019-5in5-food-supply/58434

[8] https://newatlas.com/ibm-2019-5in5-food-supply/58434

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