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Coming Together to Drive Digital Transformation in the Agri-Food Industry

In this guest post, Rich Reynertson, President of Cultura, reflects on the group's renewed vision recently unveiled during the APEX summit.

The Cultura team spent the week of May 15th, 2023 gathered in Frankfurt talking about the future of our agri-food brands and how we can evolve to meet the urgent needs of the global food sector. This was as part of our group’s APEX summit, where leaders of our businesses and teams come together for best practice sharing, discussion, and networking. These inspiring few days allowed our senior leaders to set the scene for our renewed vision for Cultura. I wanted to capture a few thoughts and reflections on the week to share.

Keynotes on collaboration and food security

We held two keynotes that speak to the changes the agri-food industry is facing, and the ways we need to adapt to compete and grow the ways we need to adapt to provide innovation, data, and insights as agri-food technology providers. First, Cultura founder Jim Baker delivered a session on the urgent issues around food security – noting that much of the rich world (including the U.S., Canada, and Europe) has access to more food than ever at relatively low prices. However, this is nowhere near universal. In many parts of the world, the norm is that people must spend half their income on food.

Cultura founder Jim Baker addresses innovation in agri-food technology in the face of world food insecurity during the group's APEX summit in Frankfurt, Germany.

These realities, combined with a need to continue to feed a growing population, mean that the agri-food industry needs to collectively double food production by the year 2050. Baker highlighted the need for the industry to seize this challenge while focusing on protecting human health (producing more food of better quality) and sustainability (minimizing impact on the environment). Current projections by the Global Hunger Index show our productivity well under where need, while at the same time the U.S. EPA estimates that food production accounts for 26% of greenhouse gases annually.

For our second day keynote, we invited Dr. Henning Beck, a world-leading expert in creativity and collaboration, to speak. He explored the ways AI and technology are changing how we work, and how we can start to rethink human interaction and collaboration for a modern AI-enabled world. Henning highlighted the productivity that can come from not only the number of connections within a team – but also the power of a diversity of connections between teams. He made the case for diverse, cross-functional interactions to spur innovation and idea generation.

Dr. Henning Beck spoke about how AI is changing the way humanity works during Cultura's APEX summit in Frankfurt, Germany.

How businesses can drive innovation

Our strategy leader Alex Kryshtalskyj facilitated a day-long session on how our businesses can spark innovation in their organizations through experimentation. Groups brainstormed ways to build cultures of experimentation and discussed how to fund and manage innovation in practical ways.

Innovation doesn’t always come in product form, our groups discussed ways to encourage evolution through tools, processes, and increased collaboration as well.

Strategy leader Alex Kryshtalskyj discussed how experimentation leads to innovation at Cultura during the group's APEX summit in Frankfurt, Germany.

Focus on talent development  

Our talent leaders from across Cultura came together with HR Director Sarah Davie to help leaders prepare for emerging issues in human resources. The session started with a discussion of our leaders’ own strengths – and I think that introspection can be useful as we consider how to be our best selves to help our teams thrive.

Sarah pointed to some of the macro-trends that we need to be ready for, including the four-day work week, quiet hiring (where a company chooses to train existing employees rather than hire new employees), intergenerational work teams, and the trend of focusing on skills over qualifications. It was a good reminder for us all that talent powers our businesses at every level, and that for us in the technology industry, we are nothing without our teams.

Human Resources Director Sarah Davie discussed trends like a four-day work week and intergenerational work teams during Cultura's APEX summit in Frankfurt, Germany.

Launch of a renewed vision for Cultura

At Cultura, we’re embracing our role as a leading source of digital insight for the sector and helping elevate the stories of how our collaborative of companies across the food supply chain are helping keep people fed, supply chains moving, and food production sustainable.

It’s in this context that we announced a newly refreshed Cultura brand – with a new website and some great new visuals – as well as a clear vision for the future of the agri-food industry.

We have also launched a new approach to how we engage with our industry. We have worked to identify areas of focus throughout the food system – transportation, supply chain optimization, sustainability, traceability, safety, and data analytics – where we can convene collaborative circles to generate technology-enabled decisions.

Cultura President Rich Reynertson revealed the group's newly refreshed brand – including a new website – during the APEX summit in Frankfurt, Germany.

We have had some initial conversations with our largest customers and we’re kicking off a long-term program with one of our tier one global customers to look at digital strategy throughout their operation. We’ll work across companies, across disciplines, and with partners to help them transform their operation for the new realities of a food system in need of change.

At Cultura, we refer to agri-food as “the world’s most important industry.” Our success underpins the health of people and our planet and we’re calling on our sector to come together.

Final thoughts

APEX was an important milestone for us as we continue to grow and evolve as a portfolio. It is critical to come together to celebrate our success, while planning for the future and aligning goals.

For Cultura, we will continue the momentum of collaboration, innovation and talent development and will work with the agri-food industry to carry this forward.

Volaris Group CEO Mark Miller (center) takes part in a breakout session during Cultura's APEX summit in Frankfurt, Germany.