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Each and every one of us becomes a data producer, as eating becomes digitalised. With the aid of digital information, the food system becomes more and more international, and consumer segments for healthy food can be found as easily in Korea as in Finland.

My Data, i.e. personal data of an individual, are transferred in the web and make it easier to acquire a healthy diet. According to the researchers of the Natural Resources Institute Finland (Luke), the digital food system will offer new business opportunities for all operators of the system.

Luke’s senior scientist Terhi Latvala knows that the digitalisation of the food system is subject to a lot of expectations, but also a lot of doubts. Information is continuously gathered on our health risks, our consumption patterns and our dietary guidelines. This data reserve could be used for developing an effective and healthy food system. However, familiar questions on data security and protection of consumers’ privacy come up.

“I am thinking, that the consumers would not be just providers of information at the end of the food system. At the moment, we give a lot of information to the trade without getting any of it back. My Data means that the consumers would manage their own information and would get to decide themselves who to share their information with”, Latvala says.

Digitalisation of the food system is all about personal needs. (Photo: Rodeo, manipulation)

More agility to the food system

By sharing their information, the consumers could get meals corresponding to their energy needs when eating in a canteen and notifications of product selections in shops that suite their diet. Latvala underlines that digitalisation is about refining information for individual needs.

“Consumers do not want individual products from grocery stores, but are looking for solutions for different situations, for parties, for dinners. By combining the consumers’ and stores’ information, the consumers’ situation can be solved as a service. Even the amount of waste would be reduced, when the shopping would be used for a specific situation”, Latvala describes.

Also, the consumers’ My Data would bring sought after agility to the food system. As the consumers would share their information, it would be possible to get more information on future trends in consumption for the food system.

Digitalisation is not something completely new. In agriculture, large farms have invested in automated production and robotics. However, in the future even small and mid-sized operators will be able to reach international markets in the web with quality batches and special products.

Although several unresolved issues within the food system that is becoming digitalised still remain, Latvala sees various opportunities in the future. One of the most important of them is the internationalisation of the food trade which makes it possible to transfer and track information on various products, services and materials as well as production equipment within global market chains. Digitalisation enables marketing of products to identified consumer groups that are scattered far and wide.

“With digital information, consumer segments for healthy food can be found as easily in Korea as in Finland. The food system is becoming increasingly international, and reliable operators will do well in digital trading”, Terhi Latvala says.

The possibilities of developing the Finnish food system by digitalisation were mapped out in cooperation with the Technical Research Centre of Finland (VTT) and the Aalto University in the DigiFood project coordinated by Luke.

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