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July 20, 2020

The demand for efficient, sustainable, healthy and locally produced food is strongly increasing, driven by various pull and push factors:

  1. The growing need for efficient and sustainable production is driven by macro-economic developments such as the growing world population and climate objectives. In addition, there are sector-specific developments such as the structurally low margins of food producers, the dominant position of supermarkets, the rise of digital natives and labour shortages in the horticultural sector. The growing demand for locally produced and healthy food is driven by the trade war, COVID-19 and changing consumer behaviour.
  2. Various technological developments that enable more efficient processes such as sensors, Internet of Things and AI create competitive pressure to keep innovating


In order for flowers or plants to grow properly, an optimal environment is needed, consisting of various parameters such as temperature, humidity, light intensity, certain levels of minerals, etc. A greenhouse is a complex system with different components, such as crop, climate and irrigation strategies. Within this system, sensors measure different plant characteristics with optical and imaging techniques. Greenhouse horticulture is therefore a data-rich environment in which one tries to achieve an 'optimal production cycle' with many repetitive tasks. It is therefore an extremely fertile ground to start working with new digital technology in order to exploit the data generated and to meet the changing demand.

Download the whitepaper if you want to know more.

Combining in-depth knowledge of cultivation recipes in the 'heads' of horticulturists with the possibilities of data, robotics and AI offers the opportunity to substantially increase the efficiency and quality of food production. The use of digital technology in horticulture will enable the following successive steps to be taken:

1. Describe and diagnose with dashboards - creating key insights through dashboards that continuously display a comprehensive view of business performance. With this descriptive and diagnostic analysis, decision-makers can better see what's happening and why, and adjust actions accordingly.

2. Yield forecasting - the combination of accurate food production forecasting with customer demand forecasting through the use of data and AI results in optimizing yields, planning, asset allocation and business strategy.

3. Automating production through Robotics - industrial Robotics is used on the internal processes where a lot of data must be processed and / or where repetitive tasks are involved to get production more efficient and accurate, to ensure the quality of the product or to reduce dependence on labor.

4 Autonomous greenhouse through a combination of Robotics and AI - Bringing together an accurate yield forecasting model with Robotics in a digital platform driven by AI and machine learning will result in (semi) autonomous greenhouses where the requested products are produced efficiently and sold for the optimal price.

For a successful transformation it is essential to make a make-or-buy choice for each element of the (digital) operating model and to determine the right speed of implementation .

Using these two axes, four choices are distinguished:

1. collaborative innovation

2. business transformation

3. M&A/strategic partnerships

4. Greenfield

Because a significant part of the knowledge about digital technology is missing within the agribusiness sector, technology companies are trying to gain a position. In addition, private equity firms see opportunities to realize an international growth strategy with Dutch companies. These developments result in an increase in M&A transactions. For example, JBR recently accompanied the acquisition of a minority stake in Certhon by Japanese Robotics specialist DENSO with the aim of jointly achieving step 3.

If you want to know more about the possible steps with example cases we refer you to the article on our website.



Would you like to see JBR 's vision on developing a strategic plan for a future business model, with digital technology in greenhouses?

Download this white paper.






Please do not hesitate to contact us if you would like to exchange views on how JBR can support you in defining a successful strategy, acquiring or financing digital competencies or selling your business.