A new report suggests retailers could cut food waster, improve animal welfare and boost profits by harnessing the power of big data. The report warned that the world needs to adopt a food system to feed future populations, with technology and data set to play an important role in boosting crop yields and livestock productivity.

Farm productivity will need to increase and food waste decrease, if 9 billion people are to have enough food to survive and those productivity gains, will be most needed in developing nations in Africa, southern Asia and Latin America where population gains are expected to be the fastest, according to the United Nations.

According to a report published by Rabobank, a smarter food system is one that combines technology, big data and algorithms to add speed and accuracy to food production, processing, distribution and retailing. Rabobank believes a smarter food system could offer productivity gains of at least 5% across a number of sub-sectors, supply chain stages and regions.

Agrimetrics a big data centre is working to provide significant improvements in the food markets to help iron out uncertainty, ensuring Britain and the world has a secure supply of available and affordable food while reducing financial and environmental costs.

Farming Minister George Eustice said: “British farmers are increasingly making use of data to help them manage and grow their business, from predicting weather trends to assessing soil qualities and using the very best feed types. This new technology has contributed to efficiency gains and will help us drive up the value of our food and farming industry, already worth £100 billion to our economy.

“This new centre, funded as part of the government’s Agri-Tech Strategy, provides even greater opportunities to utilise this valuable resource. Taking ideas from the laboratory to the farm and improving the productivity of farming is all part of our ambitious long-term vision for the future of farming”.