• Culterra

Podcast: Why it’s time to invest in the Food Supply Chain and where to look

Click to listen to Seana and Brita on the PMA Takes on Tech Podcast.


APRIL 2021


Be ready to take notes! This episode covers the needs of the food supply chain which was pushed into the spotlight by COVID-19. As we saw shortages on the shelf, and supply disruption and dislocations in production and distribution, this complicated question arose: What does it take to get data flowing from farm to plate to resiliently manage the supply chain? Brita and Seana have previously covered the well-funded ends of the supply chain. Seana in AgTech and Brita in Foodtech. They believe there is tremendous, untapped opportunity for vertical-specific technology companies which are focused on serving the unique needs of the food supply chain. After listening to this episode, you will to!


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FULL TRANSCRIPT:


Moderator: Vonnie Estes, Vice President of Technology, Produce Marketing Association

  • Seana Day, Partner at Culterra Capital

  • Brita Rosenheim, Partner at Culterra Capital

Vonnie Estes, PMA: Welcome to PMA Takes on Tech. The podcast that explores the problems, solutions, people, and ideas that are shaping the future of the produce industry. I'm your host, Vonnie Estes, vice president of technology for the Produce Marketing Association. And I've spent years in the ag tech sector. So I can attest, it's hard to navigate this ever-changing world and developing and adopting new solutions to industry problems. Thanks for joining us and for allowing us to serve as your guide to the new world of produce and technology. My goal of the podcast is to outline a problem in the produce industry and then discuss several possible solutions that can be deployed today.


Vonnie Estes, PMA: If you were anywhere in the food supply chain from producer to retailer food service, you're going to love this episode. Also, if you are a tech provider or investor in the food supply chain, you should listen up. I talk with Seana Day and Brita Rosenheim of Culterra Capital about their landscape of the supply chain and the trends that they're seeing. Most of the investments to date, have been focused at either end of the supply chain, either in ag tech or food tech. This landscape focuses on everything it takes to get food from post-harvest to retail, get ready to take notes. They talk about the four pillars of the supply chain and the seven innovation drivers. We also discuss why this is the time for investment in the supply chain and the difference technology can make. Let's jump into the conversation.

Vonnie Estes, PMA: Brita and Seana, it's so great to have you on the podcast. As you know, I'm such a big fan of your work. You recently published your supply chain tech landscape 2021, which is a masterpiece view of the industry. You've also laid out trends and the importance of investing in the supply chain now. For those of you listening, who are near a computer or your phone, you can Google Culterra Capital and open up the landscape. We'll talk about it later, but before we get to that, let's get to some background. So tell me about who you are and a little bit about how you got there and you're focus on the supply chain.

Seana Day, Culterra Capital: Thanks very much, Vonnie. It's great to be with you. I'm Seana Day and I'll give Brita Rosenheim a chance to introduce herself in just a second, but I'll jump in first. And just give you a little bit of background about the journey and how we kind of got here. So I've historically covered ag tech and some of your audience members might've seen the farm tech and ag tech landscapes we've published for the last five or six years. And we really look at that through the lens of IT for food and ag. So we're looking at software, hardware applications, and I think I cover at this stage about 1,600 companies, that's probably growing on a global basis. And so this was really a fun opportunity for Brita and I to do some collaboration as we look into the messy middle of food and ag, but just kind of by way of background.

Seana Day, Culterra Capital: I sit in the Central Valley in California. So I'm based in Turlock. And this was kind of a natural extension for me to look into the supply chain, given that kind of ag background and the ag roots. And not only that, in California, it's a $200 billion food processing industry, and a lot of that takes place in the Central Valley as well. So this has kind of been a passion of mine, since I moved back to my hometown about seven years ago, and really spent more and more time thinking about not only what's happening in the farm, in the field, but also the value add. The food processing, manufacturing and a lot of the logistics. So I'll kick it over to Brita, to give a little bit of her background.

Brita Rosenheim: Thanks, Seana. Yep, this is Brita Rosenheim. So for me, it was also a natural extension going upwards. Historically, over the last decade, I've focused on technologies that are supporting the retail, CPG and restaurant sectors. So obviously they're very tied to the supply chain and over the many years, I've spent time looking at pockets of supply chain, but I think COVID really an earth and opportunity for us to roll up our sleeves, connect our worlds, and really understand the different technologies associated with the different value chains across the food supply chain. So really great timing.

Vonnie Estes, PMA: Great. Thanks. So please define for us what supply chain means to you and remember that many of my listeners are in the produce industry. So how do you define supply chain?

Seana Day, Culterra Capital: Yeah, I mean, I think we spent a lot of time actually thinking about how we position it, how we define it as we were creating the landscape itself. So we'll unpack a little bit of that later on in the conversation, but kind of fundamentally, we see the supply chain in four kind of pillars, if you will. First mile, so that's basically what's happening from the farm gate to the first packer, shipper processor or primary processor, the first kind of handoff. The second pillar is really around production and food manufacturing value add. The third in our view would be around distribution logistics, and then the fourth would be kind of demand, so really what's happening closest to the retailer or the food service provider. Really, that kind of loading dock.

Seana Day, Culterra Capital: And then, Brita's kind of world picks up within the walls of the retailer food service and looking at food tech, but that's really how we've kind of approached the supply chain as it were. And then as we thought about, what are some of the innovation drivers within that supply chain? We really got pretty deep over the course of 2020. Looking at seven different distinct innovation value drivers. Strategy and analytics, so really thinking about how to improve responses to changing the dynamics and kind of internal shocks as we saw in 2020, but just internal considerations. Whether it's weather, trade, labor disputes, what's happening on the ground. We looked at planning and execution.

Seana Day, Culterra Capital: So how do we create an environment of more responsive operations, better forecasting, better planning. We looked at asset utilization. I think this is a particularly interesting one as we start to think about load planning and transportation and logistics, and co-packers. How do people use their assets and how can technology improve the use of those assets in a more productive and profitable way? Of course, labor is something that's near and dear to I'm sure most of your audience's ears and hearts in this topic. As an innovation driver, we really believe that labor is going to be a key influencer in terms of adoption of automation and technology, but not only that, just worker safety as well. So what kinds of tools and technologies can be applied to improving worker safety.

Seana Day, Culterra Capital: Of course, quality and food safety is another key innovation driver that we looked at in the supply chain. And that's really thinking about how you decrease FSQ, food safety and quality costs. Costs to comply and report to monitor. How do you mitigate those risks, food, safety, risks in particular? And our produce listeners would probably really identify with kind of more real-time technologies and more real-time tools to help mitigate food safety risks. And then of course, extending shelf life. And we've seen some really interesting innovative technologies there.

Seana Day, Culterra Capital: The sixth pillar, is really thinking about vendor and order management and in our case, grower management. So how do you kind of digitize some of those back-office processes and improve ability to collaborate among supply chain partners? And then finally, as a key innovation driver, the physical flow of goods. How do you increase visibility into the cold chain? How do you reduce transportation costs? How do you reduce penalties and rejections from the retailers with sort of track and trace technology and reporting technologies? So that's a long-winded way of saying how we think about the supply chain, but that's how we've defined it in the landscape and then thought about investment opportunities and innovation opportunities across the supply chain.

Vonnie Estes, PMA: Wow, there's a lot in that. That could be a whole another fruitful conversation.

Seana Day, Culterra Capital: We'll come back some day and talk about that.

Vonnie Estes, PMA: Yeah. That can only be spoken by someone who has really dissected this and looked at it very closely. So we'll dig deeper into some of that. So value creation to date has been consolidated at the end points of food and ag, as you were talking about. So growing and harvesting at one end, where there's been a lot of technologies developed and a lot of money invested in ag tech on that side, which is Seana, what you've worked on a lot and then retail and food service, kind of at the other side. There's been a lot of investment and technology development, which Brita you've worked on a lot. So why do you think this is the time for investment in the supply chain and how has COVID accelerated this need?

Brita Rosenheim: Sure. I'll take that one. In doing this work, even ahead of COVID, we are reaching a unique inflection point in the evolution of the food supply chain. We do think that there's growing agreement and understanding by food supply chain stakeholders, that they can no longer put off investment into technology. So we're seeing increasing digital readiness, obviously spurred by COVID, supply chain dislocations, but we're also seeing new innovation from the tech companies, themselves, new tech breakthroughs that are focused on the new ... Excuse me, focused on the unique nuances of today's food industry. Some of that again, pre COVID existed, post COVID exacerbated. These shifting consumer preferences, the tremendous increase in omni-channel, that's putting greater pressure on suppliers to adopt to the dynamic demands of the buyers.

Brita Rosenheim: Of course, we're seeing, as Seana referenced, acute labor shortages, that's driving the need for automation. And taking a step back, we're looking at market and investor demands for increased traceability and sustainability. So those are some of the key drivers that were percolating ahead of COVID, but I think we've really sharpened the focus of the different participants across the supply chain and recognized that there is urgency that that technology can address.

Vonnie Estes, PMA: Yeah. And I think with COVID ... Before, COVID most Americans didn't even consider the food supply chain, they had never even thought of it, because food always showed up. And so I think it certainly has put some consumer focus on it as well.

Brita Rosenheim: Yep, yep.

Vonnie Estes, PMA: So what part does digitalization play? And can you give some examples of that?

Brita Rosenheim: Certainly. Yeah. So just building that, we're seeing this increased recognition that accumulated technical debt is unsustainable in the supply chain. Right now, the supply chain tech category is highly fragmented. We're seeing a lot of legacy or very specialized or highly customized and of horizontal edge enterprise tech solutions. And so that's what we're dealing with. Digitalization exists, but we're looking, how do we take it to the next level and create interoperability across those solutions? So we're seeing kind of clear venture opportunities to develop. We think vertical plays and strategy and analytics, robotics, automation, specialized distribution and logistics players. All of those rely on unsiloed data, you're connecting systems across the supply chain, but we're also seeing artificial intelligence, machine learning, IOT and other advancements that are driving tech into more complex physical spaces. And so that's, factories, roads, warehouses, farms, where historically we didn't have a lot of technology.

Brita Rosenheim: And so, that's paving the way for a broader digitalized platform foundation. For example, the function of vendor and order management. We know Excel and email, they're the king of supply chain applications still to date, but there's increasing adoption for business automation, process automation software, it helps operators in the first mile and in retail, digitize those back office functions like document processing, payments. RPA, robotic process automation. There are a number of different technologies that are helping to create an underlying digital foundation to the supply chain.

Brita Rosenheim: Ultimately, that supports increased collaboration, internal and external, better data quality, better insights. Ultimately, optimize procurement processes for the retailers because they have better insights, better predictive processes. And we think that it has a potential to reduce overall time to market and that's particularly important, obviously in the fresh and perishable space.

Vonnie Estes, PMA: You mentioned interoperability, which is an issue across the whole supply chain on farm, all the way through to retailer. And so how do you think about that and how do you think that's going to play out, because right now it seems like there's so many different systems and they don't speak to each other.

Seana Day, Culterra Capital: When we started this project, this Odyssey last year. I really started to fixate on this idea of, so what? So if, you have more data, how would that have changed some of the massive dislocations that we saw in the food supply chain? And a few that come to my mind, just based on where I sit. We saw dairy processors kind of shut down overnight because they may have been servicing the food service industry. And all of a sudden, they didn't need 20 pound totes of mozzarella anymore. And then you'd see milk, dairy producers then having to dump milk in their fields. And that kind of dislocation, I think really hit people hard. But getting back to that question, I ask myself, "So what, if we would have had more data, how would that have changed that outcome?"

Seana Day, Culterra Capital: And that's kind of got us to sort of pull on this sweater, thread of data interoperability and how data flows through the supply chain to kind of start. The more we pulled on it, the more things kind of unraveled as we were trying to get to some of these answers. You kind of have to unpack what the data is. Is it specs, is it traceability data? Is that food safety data? What is the data that needs to get passed from one hand to the next. We kind of think about it in two ways. You've got what exists within the four walls. And a lot of that's going to be your production data, your manufacturing execution systems, things that you need to operate the business within the four walls. But then you've got to share some of that selected data with your supply chain partners as well.

Seana Day, Culterra Capital: And as we started to map out those data flows, which we did sort of an agonizing level of detail to get to some of those so what answers, then we kind of sort of backed ourselves out of it and said, "Okay, so what are some of those adoption headwinds?" In terms of getting people to share data or adopt digital technologies to kind of aid in the sharing of data And Brita, mentioned one, which I think is a real sort of struggle and pain point, and that's that Excel and email sort of remain the defacto technology standards in many industries. It's not unique to food and ag, but we certainly see that in food and ag.

Seana Day, Culterra Capital: We struggle with data quality. There's a lot of sort of manual entry. You write something down in the field or out on the loading dock. And you've got to give a piece of paper to somebody in the office who transcribes it. Functional silos, that's another. We understand the pain of functional silos and decision-making well now. I think if you're talking to an FSQ manager, procurement manager, a transportation manager, they might have different pain points and the same solution is not going to necessarily solve their individual pain points. I think probably one of the biggest that either you and your audience may identify with, is really change management or sort of incremental improvement or process improvement. However, you want to call it, getting people to change the way that they've always done things is really, really difficult, and it takes leadership and capacity building. And the technology has to be easy to use. And there has to be a short learning curve.

Seana Day, Culterra Capital: These are all, I think, learnings that the technology companies and the business leaders are probably struggling with, but hopefully we sort of get over that inflection point and we start to see more of that commitment to digitalizing businesses and not sort of trying to do everything all at once, but really having a sort of long-term strategy for implementing technologies. And also, recognizing that the ROI of tech starts to come when you can combine some of these systems and data sets. So having kind of reasonable expectations for ROI in one system versus a kind of systems, of systems, where you really start to hum in terms of the decision support, but it doesn't happen overnight.

Vonnie Estes, PMA: Yeah. I was listening to this South by Southwest virtual conference presentation a couple of weeks ago, and it was a guy talking about how now every company is a software company and it was very compelling. And them talking about, all the tools that you need to be using just to do business right now, you better have people oriented around how things connect. How does data gets get passed through? So I think that's going to be a big change in our industry, along with every industry. So let's-

Brita Rosenheim: Just building on that one particular point is, I think that's where we're seeing the opportunity, especially at the venture side. As I mentioned, you have a lot of legacy systems, but we're seeing an increase of software SaaS, in early stage companies that are using AI and machine learning to better harmonize data from legacy systems. So they're straddling the existing systems. You don't have to rip and replace, but they're integrating them to better optimize for real-time planning, visibility by pulling from multiple systems. So you're going to be a modern lens. And this is also another driver, one other driver I'd say is, consumerization of enterprise tech. You're getting those kind of modern user experiences and pulling this data from lots of legacy systems in order to make better decisions. And so in the strategy analysis piece, that's where we think there's a lot of opportunity for earlier stage teams to help move the needle there.

Vonnie Estes, PMA: Yeah. They were also talking about, just making the decision of, do you build or buy? What systems are out there like, AWS, that you don't have to build everything yourself, but what can you kind of plug everything into? For a company that doesn't normally use those systems, just integration of everything is going to be a challenge as well.

Brita Rosenheim: Certainly. Yep.

Vonnie Estes, PMA: Yep. Seana, you and I've had this conversation a little bit before about the first mile, but let's kind of open it up again to talk about, what happens at first mile and what happens there right after harvesting has one of the biggest effects on produce quality and shelf life. So what do you see as the important technologies and innovations that are coming there and are needed there in the first mile?

Seana Day, Culterra Capital: Yeah. I mean, Brita's sitting in New York right now and I'm in California and I can probably hear her eyes rolling back in her head because I talk about first mile so much, I'm obsessed with it. Every time I get on the phone with somebody and I have a chance to talk about first mile or ask questions. I do. So I'd love to answer this question. Again, when we started unpacking this, I did a lot of work just to kind of understand what actually happens in the first mile, what data is collected? From harvest and sort of labor planning, harvest planning, harvest equipment planning, actually harvesting, the harvest activities themselves. To then kind of load scheduling, load logistics. Once it sort of leaves the field, then looking at receiving, grading, QA, QC, how are the commodities stored? And then how are they marketed and how are they sold? And the shipping logistics from that point.

Seana Day, Culterra Capital: And then also within that first mile umbrella, and you'll see this on the landscape, is really that grower contract management, grower management. So that's where the payments, the certifications are really, the sort of tools and technologies to keep records there. So that's a lot, those are a lot of kind of discreet moving pieces that obviously have a lot of dependencies on one another as well. There's a whole bunch of different data sets that go along with those different activities. And by data sets, they don't necessarily go into a computer. They are on a notebook somewhere, or they sit in a dispatcher's head, who's worked on sort of load planning and transportation logistics for 20 years. That's the area of the first mile that I'm really excited about, but really, I think we have a long way to go in terms of digitalization.

Seana Day, Culterra Capital: This is probably the least digitized part of our sort of supply chain as we've defined it. I think a lot of the activity that at least I've seen as we've done a lot of the company research is really in that producer management, grower contracts. There are sort of workflows and task management activities there that plug into food safety and quality, and they plug into some of the other traceability applications that we're increasingly seeing more and more demand for. And then of course, you have monitoring also, as you mentioned. And we've talked about, what happens in that first mile is so important from a quality and shelf life standpoint. You might think that the cut to cool time is three hours or five hours, and it might be taking nine hours. Once, you kind of look at the monitoring technologies. Those are just some of the areas that there appears to be a lot of opportunity for technology intervention and better monitoring, reporting, and management of relationships and contracts.

Vonnie Estes, PMA: So let's switch to the landscape that you've done. And so this is such an amazing piece of work. And so those of you that can open this, it's Culterra Capital, and you can open and look in the landscape. I realize that probably some people listening to this are either driving or folding laundry. So you might want to open it up later and look at it. But can you at a high level then walk us through kind of the backbone of the landscape. One of the things I found the most interesting about it, was just how you even segmented everything. It was like looking into both of your brains to see how you think. The way that you even segmented it because that in itself was an amazing piece of work. So how did you break up the different sections and then how did you find the companies and kind of populate it?

Seana Day, Culterra Capital: Brita and I spent most ... As many people in the world know, we didn't travel very much in 2020. So we had a chance to really go deep and in an undistracted sort of very focused way. And we realized probably about midway through that we had bit off a lot more than we could chew, but that was a challenge for us that we happily embraced. This took us a long time to kind of figure out how to organize and not only organize the pillars, the supply side production and manufacturing, distribution, logistics, and demand. But also really thinking about, "Okay, who's doing more strategy work, who's doing more just the blocking and tackling execution and then who are those kind of more value chain players that really crossover?" And the first kind of, I guess, qualifications I'd say. We fully recognize that there are many companies on this landscape that could fit into multiple categories.

Seana Day, Culterra Capital: So we had conversations with them to try to figure out what the predominant business model was. We had to make some judgment calls there. And then the other thing that I would say is, I want ... Brita, wouldn't know exactly the number I'm sure, but I think we've got about 3 or 400 logos. We came up with about 650 companies in the database, and we really approached this in the same way that we approach our respective landscapes, mine on the ag tech side, Brita on the food tech. We do just a lot of research. We have our own proprietary databases. We talked to a large number of companies, which is great, about these maps. It gives us a chance to get to know, where the really exciting innovators are. And we love that part of our work.

Seana Day, Culterra Capital: It was new to us and a lot of these companies are also more horizontal, especially if we look at the production and logistics and distribution. Food and ag might be a vertical that they have a footprint in, that was kind of a criteria for us. Every company on this landscape has a footprint in food and ag, although many are horizontal. And that was really how we started to kind of come up with this thesis of, "Okay, now is the time. It feels like we are in that moment where verticalized food and ag specific, food and bev specific technologies are really going to advance the modernization of the food supply chain." And again, we look back at the massive dislocations that we saw in the supply chain in 2020. And that sense of urgency I think, is really sort of creating an interesting moment for us.

Seana Day, Culterra Capital: And we're excited to get to know, and we'll shortly make our announcement in a first mile investment that we've made in the last couple of weeks. So we're really excited to support the companies that are looking at building these food and ag specific data sets to address some of these supply chain challenges.

Vonnie Estes, PMA: When I look at that landscape and that's so many really smart people and a bunch of money that's gone into it and great technology that's being directed to the supply chain. I think people wouldn't realize that, that's happening without you really shining a light on it.

Seana Day, Culterra Capital: Yeah. I mean, the other thing that we did, and you touched on this earlier. The investment has really sort of gathered around the end points, Food tech and ag tech, and here we see a lot of internal R&D. You've got mature companies here that sort of obviously reinvest. So we're not talking about outside investment. I fully understand that there's great R&D that's done, but if you actually look at the venture and private equity investment in the kind of messy middle here, it is sort of surprisingly low given the size of the prize. We kind of call this $150 billion opportunity and the proportion of outside risk capital and outside investment that's flowed into the spaces, is surprisingly low given the size of that prize.

Vonnie Estes, PMA: Do you think that's because people don't see it as an opportunity or don't know how to attack it? Or now that you've kind of broke it open, you think people are going to rush in. Why isn't there more money flowing into there?

Seana Day, Culterra Capital: Look, food processing isn't very sexy. We hope that, that changes. We hope that as people start to understand the really interesting work that's being done around food safety detection. Freshness control application, there are some really interesting opportunities to move the needle significantly. Particularly, when we talk about these big picture challenges, like food waste. Everybody talks about food waste. Well, here's a place where we can deploy capital to really move the needle and kind of improve the metrics around food waste, for example.

Vonnie Estes, PMA: You all have identified five trends that will accelerate tech adoption. Can you kind of go through some of those and highlight what you see are the important trends?

Seana Day, Culterra Capital: Yeah. So I'll start and Brita and I can both speak to this. On the supply side and this applies across the board, but really operational visibility. As I mentioned before, the first mile is kind of the least digitized part of the food supply chain. So increasing that level of the digitalization. Tech enabled resource and asset planning, I think that's really going to be an important trend to watch as we look at ... Just anecdotally, I drive around in my part of the valley and I'll drive by a field every couple of miles where you see 20 empty trailers or 30 empty trailers, and you kind of scratch your head and think, "Wow, I wonder if there's a way to better utilize or optimize the CapEx that's gone into those 20 or 30 empty trailers." So really using technology to improve resource planning and allocation.

Seana Day, Culterra Capital: And then the other area that we kind of looked at, and you'll see this on the map is, sort of data-driven market insights. What kind of data and information can marketers, can traders use to reduce volatility, to reduce risk, to reduce loss across the supply chain? I think there's a lot of neat work that should be done and will continue to appear on the horizon around just those market insights. And then I'll also speak to the production piece, the food manufacturing piece. I think really thinking about industry 4.0 readiness and Brita, touched on it earlier. How do a lot of these food manufacturing plants or value add plants really react to those industry 4.0 innovations that are coming down the pipeline to improve automation, to improve worker safety, to reduce dependency on workers in some lines? And then also to be able to provide ...

Seana Day, Culterra Capital: We haven't talked very much about it, I don't know what number to use, you can use anywhere between 30 and 60,000 food processors in the US alone. And there are obviously the very large ones that we've seen and heard a lot about, but the S&Bs, the small to midsize food processing, food, manufacturing facilities, and plants really don't have the same sort of end-to-end operational platforms that some of the big guys have. It's going to be exciting, I think, to see more of those types of kind of end to end technology solutions that can help those S&Bs focus on productivity and profitability in their businesses. So I'll kick it over to Brita, to talk about a couple of the others.

Brita Rosenheim: Yeah. And building on that, looking at the logistics and distribution piece, which straddles the entire supply chain. One trend in particular that we're seeing in food and ag, but broadly, is supply chain as a service. So layering in better intelligent logistics and distribution options and not necessarily managing it all within house. So just in the same way that cloud computing has allowed companies to reduce their upfront CapEx, supply chain as a service is helping companies across the supply chain augment their procurement, their production control, their manufacturing, quality, warehousing, logistics. Outsourcing that, where it makes more sense to leverage companies that are specializing in those functions. That obviously helps, especially on the earlier stage side. It helps S&Bs get up to scale quickly, leveraging these other technologies.

Brita Rosenheim: Another piece of that, in terms of intelligent logistics and distribution is layering robotics, so human robot collaboration. So where in DCs and fulfillment centers, we're seeing increased robotics. Some are autonomous, but increasingly we're seeing that relationship between humans and robotic solutions or AR, VR in terms of training. We're seeing that middleware, the software systems that are supporting the operations and the workers within the warehouses. I think that's generally a category that's been horizontal. And as we're seeing this increase in horizontal software, so looking at multiple industries, and as we're seeing the shift towards increased eCommerce, digital grocery ordering. We're going to see increase solutions that are focused on the fresh and perishable category in terms of robotics and automation at the warehouse and DC center. Obviously, they're focused on how do you fulfill at the quantity and speed that you need in order to make eCommerce profitable?

Brita Rosenheim: Going a little further down the supply chain to demand, looking at these actual retail and restaurant businesses themselves. We're seeing a huge urgency for last mile economies of scale. How do you actually get it to the consumer? And increased focus on inventory management, demand planning, distribution. How do you upgrade your processes there to better react to the consumer demands and these new business and revenue models? Whether it's direct to consumer, omni-channel or the cook and collect options. Obviously, on the restaurant side, which we haven't talked about more, you're not in business, if you didn't adopt a digital interface and online ordering and curbside pickup at a minimum during this past year.

Brita Rosenheim: We've seen a huge jump in terms of, kind of technical adoption through Instacart, whether it's the large third-party marketplaces, not all of it's done in house, but helping these restaurants and retailers adopt to these new purchasing behaviors. So I think that's changing kind of business model approach on the demand side. And then, just broadly we're looking at ... If you're looking at taking a step back at the entire value chain, all of these lead to hopefully a tighter and better connection between supply and demand. Now that's the Holy Grail. And Vonnie, you had mentioned ahead of this, when were preparing for it. There's little visibility between the warehouse and the point of sale. Where's my stuff? Where's my stuff going to? We still have very siloed data and a number of technical gaps to fill there. So ultimately, all of these technologies should be supporting a better connection between supply and demand in terms of visibility.

Vonnie Estes, PMA: Yeah. I think that's definitely what the industry needs. You look at that landscape and you think, "Okay, that's what it's going to take." All right. Well, Brita and Seana, this has been an incredible conversation and I always learn so much from both of you. And I think you have one of the best views of what's happening in this whole middle piece. And I hope that, that drives your investment and also other people's investment into this sector, because it really supports the whole food industry. So thank you very much for the work that you do and for spending this time with us today.

Seana Day, Culterra Capital: Thanks for having us, Vonnie.

Brita Rosenheim: Absolutely, our pleasure. Thank you.

Vonnie Estes, PMA: That's it for this episode of PMA Takes on Tech. Thanks for allowing us to serve as your guide to the new world of produce and technology. Be sure to check out all our episodes at Pma.com and wherever you get your podcasts. Please subscribe, and I would love to get any comments or suggestions of what you might want me to take on. For now, stay safe, eat your fruits and vegetables, and we will see you next time.