In discussing what the future holds for robotics in the produce field, Mark DeSantis is CEO of Pittsburgh, PA-based Bloomfield Robotics, sees changes ranging far and wide, from labor costs to shipping times to safety and quality improvements at point of purchase.
With a technology as potentially disruptive to the produce industry as robotics, our experts advise growers to weigh the potential costs and risks before deciding it’s the right move for them.
It’s in the field that our experts see the most potential for game-changing developments in robotics, and they were all forthcoming about how the technology can improve production from alleviating the labor crunch to better-quality harvests and less product loss.
It was once felt that robots were too heavy-handed and imprecise to be of benefit to packers and shippers. That was generations ago.
There have been two constants since the dawn of automation: advocates of developing technologies optimistically forecasting that machines will replace human labor, and people within the trade who steadfastly insist it could never happen—at least not broadly.
There’s no question online grocery shopping is now mainstream, but the future may not be smooth sailing.
While convenience is a driver of online grocery sales, it comes with a price, and not everyone is willing to pay it. Click-and-collect appears more popular than delivery, Brick Meets Click research shows, with more than 45 percent of shoppers choosing curbside and/or store pickup.
Year-over-year ecommerce grocery sales remained strong through the first six months of this year, but the growth rate has slowed since the Covid spike that took place in 2020.
Early in the pandemic, ecommerce sales focused on canned and packaged foods along with long-lasting pantry vegetables like onions and potatoes. Since then, consumers have become more comfortable purchasing fresh produce items online.
Covid, that major disruptor, gave a shot in the arm to online grocery sales. Various consumer surveys show that approximately half of all U.S. adults shop for groceries online at least sometimes.