‘Cognitive technologies’: Automated supply chains could alleviate pandemic-fueled food shortages

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Credit: NPR

As the coronavirus crisis takes a massive toll on global markets, officials are increasingly raising alarms about the food supply.

Maximo Torero Cullen, chief economist with the U.N.’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), has warned that “a protracted pandemic crisis could quickly put a strain on the food supply chains, a complex web of interactions involving farmers, agricultural inputs, processing plants, shipping, retailers and more. The shipping industry is already reporting slowdowns because of port closures, and logistics hurdles could disrupt the supply chains in coming weeks.”

Cognitive technologies can help. As Deloitte defines them, cognitive technologies are “products of artificial intelligence” that “are able to perform tasks that only humans used to be able to do.”


When cognitive technology is applied to the food supply chain, transactions across the world are tracked live, even as they change. All those data are instantly synthesized so businesses get the information they need and can make live changes as a result.

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For example, if a provider is unable to produce its usual supply of milk, another can instantly increase its production, and all other providers can see that information.

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