TELUS, a Canadian communication and information technology company, has expanded into agriculture and food. In addition to telecommunications, the company is also Canada’s largest healthcare IT provider under the name TELUS Health. “We’ve always had a sense of social purpose. With food and beverage demand expected to increase 70 percent by 2050, expansion into agriculture is a logical path,” says Richard Nicholas, CEO of AFS Exceedra, a TELUS Agriculture acquisition.
In agriculture, the company wants to leverage its technology background to enable industry growth and food production in a safer and more sustainable way. “We want to support the industry in becoming more efficient by connecting people through data.” This is mainly software related, but the focus will also be on service and digitalization of the value chain. “By providing better data, we support improved productivity in farming, help companies in making better commercial decisions, and provide security that food is safe,” added Nicholas. “We want to provide benefit to each contributor in the value chain.”
Value drivers fresh produce
Within the fresh produce industry specifically, one of TELUS Agriculture’s primary value drivers is increasing sustainability by minimizing food waste. “Our goal is to cut waste by 10 to 15 percent through the reduction of spoilage and quality issues. This will also result in a cost reduction.” Another value driver is increased food safety through better traceability. In case of a food safety outbreak, it should become easier and quicker to isolate to the individual batch, generating more confidence for suppliers as well as retailers and consumers. Last but not least, through management of demand, TELUS Agriculture aims to better connect suppliers with their customers. “It’s a low-margin business and management of demand will drive efficiencies.”
Digitization is the keyword in TELUS’ agriculture division. “Data is a key strength of our company and we distinguish ourselves by connecting data around sustainability, food safety, commercial operations, and efficiency. We feel there are great opportunities for growth in this segment.”
TELUS has ventured into agriculture through a series of acquisitions in the past 12 months. “The acquisitions are technology providers around each stage of the value chain, including inputs, farming, production, distribution, and manufacturing,” said Nicholas. In addition, the acquired companies are spread across different geographic regions with three companies being based in Canada, four in the US, and one in the UK,” he added. “These acquisitions have provided scale and reinforce our commitment to being an independent player in the global agriculture industry.”