iceCAM project with G's-Fresh

19 June 2015
11:30
Alasdair Craighead
Abstract

G’s Growers supply salad and vegetable crops throughout the UK and Europe; primarily as a direct supplier to supermarkets. We are currently working on a project to improve the availability of Iceberg Lettuce throughout the year as this has historically been a very volatile crop. It is also by far the highest volume crop that we produce with typical weekly sales in the summer season being about 3m heads per week.

In order to continue to grow our business we must maintain continuous supply to the supermarkets. Our current method for achieving this is to grow more crop than we will actually harvest. We then aim to use the wholesale markets to sell the extra crop that is grown rather than ploughing it back in and then we reduce availability to these markets when the availability is tight.

We currently use a relatively simple computer Heat Unit model to help predict availability however we know that this is not the full picture. In order to try to help improve our position we have started the IceCAM project (Iceberg Crop Adaptive Model) which has 3 aims.

  1. Forecast crop availability spikes and troughs and use this to have better planting programmes from the start of the season.
  2. Identify the growth stages of Iceberg to measure more accurately whether crop is ahead or behind expectation when it is physically examined in the field.
  3. The final utopian aim would be to match the market so that in times of general shortage when price are high we have sufficient crop to meet all of our supermarket customer requirements and still have spare to sell onto the markets to benefit from the higher prices. Equally when there is a general surplus we would only look to have sufficient to supply the primary customer base.

We believe that statistical mathematics can help us to solve these problems!!

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