MAC-Team

Food-Net / food-MAC network

food-MAC study 2: ICT - Information & Communication Technologies in agro-food sector

poster ICTA successful lever to this still traditional sector!
Ready for the global market?

- The main barriers remain with the security/confidentiality of the systems for which both the consumer and the industrialist have to be convinced and provided a safer protection.
- Basic access to Information Technology is no longer a barrier in all European countries
- ICT is not only software and hardware but also all the services around.
- ICT is more and more embedded: we also have now "specific food ICT" with nano-sensors included in food or in cloth wear.
- ICT is developing rapidly and jumping steps: indication of EAN coding system used, waiting for more dynamic, interactive and global/integrated intelligent labelling allowing full traceability of products and user-friendly to answer consumers' needs.

SWOT analysis from the national surveys done in participating countries
Strengths:

  • Strong penetration of basic computer sciences,
  • Increasing number of highly qualified professionals and training courses,
  • Existing clusters/research-enterprises cooperation in most countries,
  • User-friendliness of ICT tools,
  • Reduction of costs of communications and material,

Weaknesses:

  • Lack of sufficient training in SME personnel (socio-cultural barriers),
  • Delay of fast connection networks in remote areas (unequal distribution),
  • Doubt towards securitization of data and payments,
  • Misadaptation of some tool content,
  • Lack of coordination from policy makers in some countries
  • Increased need for horizontal and multi-actor cooperation, need for new cooperation schemas
  • Between companies and actors / to invent independent dependency.

Opportunities:

  • Strong research and marketing efforts of telecom companies,
  • Support from authorities (mostly in Eastern incoming countries)
  • Spreading ADSL (fast communication) networks,
  • Global market that forces the use of ICT,
  • Higher demand for quality products and just in time management,
  • High capacity and willingness of food SME’s towards innovation,
  • Growing importance of the company’s image.

Threats:

  • Tougher competition (more and more companies have a web site),
  • Aftershock of the Internet companies collapse,
  • Quickly obsolete equipments,
  • Too slow reaction of regulation deciders (more a control rather than promotion and securization)
  • Social barriers to giving access to low qualified workers to ICT training (employees & management)
  • Unequal level of equipment (number, quality, access network and material)


Recommendations
Considering the high level of innovation and competitiveness in the food sector, and as ICT is providing an immense opportunity for the coordination of economic activity and the division of labour, it seems essential to focus on:

  • The need to adjust EU policies in term of law, services and equipment,
  • More Multi Actor Cooperation (trans-national level) between: Research/industry; Customers / producers; and University/enterprises; as novel demands for new skills require new qualifications.
  • Regional National and European support, via the involvement of decision makers to be able to evaluate precisely the advantages, shortcoming and real needs of economic actors.
  • Help to SMEs providing stronger links through a reinforced assistance from experts,
  • Encourage inter SME cooperation, if possible on a trans-national basis, and enhance their ability to integrate project management models.

The study report is available in the library.