The opening session of the Fresh Produce Forum looked at the potential impact of artificial intelligence

Patricia Sagarminaga

Patricia Sagarminaga

The Fresh Produce Forum stage at this year’s Fruit Logistica kicked off with a look at the implications for AI on different levels of retail and consumer behaviour, and how they could come together in a completely new environment.

Dr Pauline Drott, innovation professional at GS1 Germany, told visitors that artificial intelligence had already become widespread and that its potential was both “exciting” and, to some extent, ”frightening”.

In her presentation, she said that increased computing power and the presence of big data had led to rapid interest in the subject, boosted by the introduction of accessible elements like Gen AI and ChatGPT.

AI tools would increasingly understand what we want from them, Drott noted, beginning a phase known as ‘AI intuition’, and the general perception of artificial intelligence had improved as a result of its increased use.

She outlined some of the key areas in which AI could benefit the food sector, including quality control and inspection, supply chain optimisation, seasonal forecasting, crop monitoring, and the reduction of food waste.

Meanwhile, the Metaverse would open up new business opportunities as it matured and became more accessible over the next ten years, Drott confirmed.

“The question remains, what does the future hold?” she asked. “I think it’s going to be very exciting, because we expect AI to get into the environmental field, as well as ethics and certification.

”We need smart interaction with artificial intelligence, we should not neglect the ethical aspects, and I hope it will be used for the benefit of society – it is beyond exciting,” she added.

Utilising AI

The second speaker in the session, Patricia Sagarminaga of AMFresh Group, explained how the global fresh produce specialist was using AI to its benefit, including developing new varieties through natural hybridisation.

“We are also using machine learning, digitalisation and robotics to make sure that it is the best quality produce that arrives at the retailer,” she explained.

AMFresh has developed five platforms to help it understand and merge insights from consumers and retailers, and all are using machine learning, big data and AI applications.

These include Fresco, its innovation and consumer insights platform; Ignite, a brand development and category expansion tool; Regroop, which helps retail partners at the point-of-sale; Freshly Packed, which focuses on packaging solutions; and Media Naranja, a citrus brand communication and shopper engagement platform.

AMFresh is also looking to use AI to connect the consumer with the beginning of the supply chain and tell the story of the grower, elevating the experience of the shopper.

“We can elevate the fresh business, it’s a fantastic, beautiful, inspirational category and if we can connect it and make it relevant for consumers then that is a gift,” she said. “If we can use AI to connect that traceability, that story that leads from the store all the way back to the farms, that’s a win.”

Click here to watch a full recording of the session at Fruit Logistica in Berlin (registration required)