Caroline Forest, Intelia's VP of business development & marketing, on VatorNews innovation podcast

Steven Loeb · October 19, 2023 · Short URL:

Intelia enables real-time data flow of information between all parts of the poultry value chain

Steven Loeb and Bambi Francisco Roizen talk with Caroline Forest, vice president of business development and marketing at Intelia, a company that enables real-time data flow of information between the farm and all other parts of the poultry value chain.

Highlights from the call:

  • “In the case of Intelia, we're really talking about the large agri-food groups that are responsible for producing chicken and bringing it to the grocery store. So, depending on where you're at in the world, that can be vertically integrated, like it is in the US, where you have companies like Tyson Food, for instance, who oversee all of the steps of the value chain, working with subcontracted farmers. So, the farmers are responsible for growing the chicken, but the rest is taken care of by Tyson. In other parts of the world, like Canada or Europe, the task of bringing the chicken to the grocery store is going to be split between different independent actors. So, the farmers are independent, the processors are independent, the feed mills and the hatcheries are other actors as well."
  • “All the actors that are needed to produce that chicken were already somehow connected through mostly an ERP system, like a financial monitoring system, but the farm is where you have your raw material. If you're a manufacturing company producing chicken, if that's your end product, then the raw material that you're using is a live animal and that was the challenge. Everything that happens at the farm has an influence over that raw material but they were completely blind to what was going on at the farm. That's where Intelia steps in. We reconnect the farm with the rest of the planning chain and we allow them to have visibility on the current inventory of live animals, but also on their evolution in time. So, we tell them, over that 35 to 65 days of growth, what is happening right now and what seems to be happening. Where's that flow going so that you can better execute on your manufacturing processes?”
  • “The method of manual weighing is very unreliable, whereas with bird scales, and especially the one that we designed, we've been able to increase the level of sample that we can get from a given flock. So, if you manage to weigh 200 birds on a given day manually, you've actually measured less than 1% of a flock. With our system, depending on the age of the birds, we've seen samples go as high as 8% or 10%, so you can imagine that the average weight that our birds kill reports on is going to be a lot more accurate. Our job is to help them do more with less, so more accuracy with less labor needed and less variability."
  • “Let's say that those birds are supposed to reach, according to their standard, or at your expected growth, they should be reaching that sixth pounds on October 20, but because these birds are super growers and they're extremely performant, or you're a super good grower, and they have the best conditions, they're going to reach that six pound on the 19th. If you're the processor, and you absolutely need those birds to be six pounds, you want to know ahead of time that this farm should be picked up on the 19th. If I pick them up on the 20th, they can be too big. Too big might not be an issue, depending on the processor, but it could be a very big issue depending on what type of product mix they're doing. So, this visibility is where Intelia brings a lot of value. It's to let them know ahead of time that these birds are going to be reaching that six pounds one day sooner.”
  • “Regulations, in general, for chicken production have increased. So, you have all of these animal welfare certifications, like if you take for instance Whole Foods, they have their Global Animal Partnership Certification, which is an animal welfare certification. If you're a producer serving Whole Foods, you have a lot of boxes to tick, and you have to monitor those birds on a daily basis or, depending on the level of certification that you have, they require you to record what you're doing with these birds on an hourly basis. So, it's a lot of reporting, and a lot of that is done manually, so when I said that it's become complex to grow chickens, that's a part of the equation. You have more tasks to do and yet we still have only 24 hours in the day, so you have to find a way to automate low value tasks and manually weighing chickens is certainly a low value task.”
  • “Chicken prices are a commodity, there are factors [influencing it]. At the end of 2019, we were already seeing in China and in Asia in particular, COVID issues and so that was shutting demand. China is the number one producer in the world, the biggest chicken producing country. So, when China started producing less, that was sending the message so the prices remained higher, and that's where that big jump started. You see that line going from the end of 2019 and slowly creeping up, up, up, up. 2021 was a record year, they were still seeing very, very high, selling prices, way higher than what it was in the previous years, and we haven't seen yet the increase in feed that the war in Ukraine brought. The war in Ukraine started on February 22, so the end of 2021 was the best moment to be a chicken producer.”


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