Western Growers' Walt Duflock Discusses Release of Inaugural Global Harvest Automation Report
IRVINE, CA - As a trade news writer, I applaud the organizations continuously bringing new resources to the forefront to advance the fresh produce industry. Western Growers (WG) recently commissioned a first-of-its-kind study, the Global Harvest Automation Report, which is the first in a new annual series set to track, measure, and report on the fresh produce industry’s progress in harvest automation.
"One of the main aims of the report was to take a comprehensive look at the entire harvest ecosystem and provide a quantitative look to the Western Growers membership at how much harvest innovation is impacting their operations across fresh products for specialty crops, where the most progress is occurring, and why," says Vice President of Innovation Walt Duflock. "Second, we wanted to provide an in-depth view of the innovators who are doing the heavy lifting by crop type, so growers would know who to contact based on the crops they grow."
The Global Harvest Automation Report, which was prepared in collaboration with consultants at Roland Berger, is part of WG's Global Harvest Automation Initiative, which aims to accelerate ag automation by 50 percent in 10 years, as noted in a press release. This year’s report revealed that growers are welcoming automation to bridge the growing labor gap and ensure that their crops can be picked in time.
Additional findings from the report include:
- Sixty-five percent of participating growers have invested in automation over the past three years
- The average annual spend on automation was $350,000–$400,000 per grower
- Harvest automation itself remains limited due to technical difficulties in replicating the human hand to harvest delicate crops—anticipated that 20 percent of harvest activities will be automated by 2025
Full print copies of WG’s Global Harvest Automation Report will be available at the Western Growers booth at the World Ag Expo February 8–10, 2022 in Tulare, California.
A complete digital copy can be downloaded here.
AndNowUKnow will continue to track the industry on its path to automation, so stay tuned for more updates.