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Smart Agrifood in Italy: an opportunity not to be missed

Smart Agrifood market and applications grow steadily, now that Italian food supply chain see a real value in digital technologies


Agriculture 4.0 keeps growing in Italy. Italian smart Agrifood market passed the symbolic 500 million euros threshold in the first half of 2020 and reached 1.3 billion at the end of that year. Last year - 2021 - the market topped 1.6 billion euros, a 23% growth over 2020. Smart farmers spent their money mostly on new natively connected farming equipments, which represented 47% of the total smart agrifood market). But also (35% of the market) to retrofit old machinery with new monitoring and control systems.

Smart Agriculture gained also more physical land. In 2021, 6% of the total arable area in Italy saw some form of Agriculture 4.0 in use (it was 3% one year before). And 60% of Italian farmers adopted at least one Agriculture 4.0 solution. 40% of them, two. Analytics and decision support systems appear to be the next major investment focus: 26% of Italian farms plan to adopt the technologies in the near future.

Market growth is driven by incentives. Smart farmers say that PNRR and other similar programs helped them to invest in new technologies sooner than planned, or to buy more - or better, therefore more expensive - products. "State aids, however, could have had an even greater impact if specifically designed for the agricultural sector", says Andrea Bacchetti, Director of Osservatorio Smart AgriFood, School of Management of Politecnico di Milano.

Why do Italian farms invest in new technologies? Above all, to get more traceability and transparency in agrifood supply chains. Consumers want to know better what they buy and from where it comes, new technologies help food companies in gathering and managing these data, to make them really accessible to customers.

That's also why blockchain technologies are now "hot" in smart agrifood. 47% of Italian companies are evaluating blockchain to get more efficiency in supply chain management, 26% to have a more sustainabile food chain, 13% to be more effective when they have to recall goods.

Many Italian tech startups are active in the Smart Agriculture sector. But they're far behind their foreign competitors in raising capital: Italy is in the global Top Ten for the number of active agrifood startups, but these get less than 1% of global agrifood funding.

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