BAKERSFIELD, California – International Fruit Genetics LLC (IFG)the world’s largest table grape grower, with 48 patented table grape varieties and ten patented sweet cherry varieties, has digital transformation enabling the 21-year-old company to fully support its licensees’ success through better planting decisions, improved variety planning and support, as well as supply and demand modeling to optimize varieties in the marketplace.
As a by-product of its licensing, IFG collects vast amounts of data that can now be summarized and consolidated to facilitate decision making for IFG and its licensees. In 2019, IFG first launched the project to consolidate critical data to develop a more integrated system and has since expanded that foundation by linking numerous internal and external applications, including the use of artificial intelligence. This recently improved system enables IFG to make better recommendations and more informed decisions for both existing fruit varieties and licensees. These efforts ensure that consumer experiences continue to be inspired by the outstanding quality of IFG table grapes and sweet cherries.
“Like many companies today, IFG is transforming and improving its data processes. We are leveraging newer digital tools that allow both old and new data to be analyzed and used for greater insights and predictive analytics,” said Carol Higgins, Solutions Architect/Manager IT, IFG. “The automation of IFG systems and data collection methods offers numerous benefits. The three pillars of IFG licensees, Commercial, Quality and Technical, contribute to and make use of the extensive data collected. The IFG team’s expert advice is shared throughout the supply chain, from field to harvest, packaging and sale. Our main goal is to support the success of our licensees.”
The impact of a digital transformation
IFG’s unique business model – renting the varieties and trademarks rather than selling them – allows the company to interact with licensees and the market every season. The data collected on fruit sales is comprehensive and provides invaluable insight when consolidated and anonymized. IFG is the only fruit grower in the world to deploy these systems and use data in new, value-added ways.
Standardize data collection tools
Higgins wanted to make sure everyone was using the same tools to collect and take notes in the field – as these measurements are vital to giving the right advice to growers in vastly different regions. As such, Higgins armed the IFG staff with more sophisticated solutions, such as globally standardized tools that can work offline to collect data and the development of an internal database to store and quickly analyze the vast amount of information collected. IFG’s database is unique and something no other fruit breeder offers in terms of research, reporting and tracking of variety performance data.
Higgins noted that previous attempts at data collection have ranged from using spreadsheets to the paper-and-pencil method. “With all IFG staff using the same tools, information is collected in a more consistent way that can now be fed into the AI algorithms, advancing insights and leading indicators in easily digestible formats,” she said.
Organize and streamline IFG’s terabytes of data
One of the main goals was to streamline IFG’s massive data volumes, allowing historical and recent data to be used for research and reporting to provide licensees with a snapshot of their performance in the marketplace. IFG uses its team to gather the tools necessary to help its licensees succeed and ensure that decisions are not made anecdotally.
In addition, the new data strategy has been a stroke of luck for IFG’s research and development team, which focuses on the natural breeding processes to develop innovative and delicious new varieties of table grapes and sweet cherries.
“We have tens of thousands of new seedlings every year. The ability to sequence the genomes of virtually all individuals of our breeding populations has helped create amazing new opportunities in breeding,” said Dr. Chris Owens, Chief Plant Breeder, IFG. “It also has its challenges. The amount of data is so large that it can be difficult to analyze and process it. But fortunately, thanks to new software, we can now analyze and use the wealth of information.”
Protect IFG IP
New technologies and systems enable IFG to better manage an extensive portfolio of intellectual property. This allows executives to know where each plant is grown and produced around the world, adding to IFG’s IP protection and the rights of the licensees who grow IFG fruit.
“Digital transformation is one more way of emphasizing what it means to be a lifetime partner with our licensed growers,” said Andy Higgins, CEO of IFG. “Through this transformation, IFG has insights into many markets that can be used to show licensees how to improve their plantations and make them more successful and have greater confidence that their planting decisions will meet their market and profit goals. Using this diverse data is unique to IFG and just another way we lead the way in fruit breeding and licensee support.”
Headquartered in Bakersfield, California, IFG is the world’s largest premium fruit breeding company. Established in 2001, the company is internationally renowned for its top quality, non-GMO fruit varieties in the table grape, cherry and raisin industry, developed by the company’s co-founder and former chief plant breeder, world-renowned fruit scientist Dr. David Cain. After the retirement of Dr. Cain, the team is now led by Dr. Chris Owens. IFG patents and licenses its varieties to global marketers and growers, with licensees in 18 countries and its fruit is actively marketed in more than 30 countries. For more information visit www.ifg.world.