BAKERSFIELD, Calif. – International Fruit Genetics LLC (IFG), the world’s largest table grape breeder, which boasts 48 patented table grape varieties and ten patented sweet cherry varieties, has completed its digital transformation enabling the 21-year-old company to fully support the success of its licensees through better planting decisions, enhanced variety planning and support, as well as supply-and-demand modeling to optimize varieties in the marketplace.
As a by-product of its licensing, IFG collects vast amounts of data that can now be summarized and consolidated to aid decision-making for IFG and its licensees. In 2019, IFG first launched the project to consolidate critical data to develop a more integrated system and has since expanded that foundation by linking numerous internal and external applications including the use of artificial intelligence. This newly enhanced system allows IFG to provide better recommendations, make more informed decisions for both existing fruit varieties and licensees. These efforts ensure that consumers’ experiences continue to be inspired by the outstanding quality of IFG table grapes and sweet cherries.
“Like many companies today, IFG is transforming and improving its data processes. We are taking advantage of newer digital tools that allow both old and new data to be analyzed and utilized for greater insights and predictive analytics,” said Carol Higgins, Solutions Architect/Manager IT, IFG. “The automation of IFG systems and data collection methods provides a myriad of benefits. The three IFG licensee support pillars of Commercial, Quality and Technical contribute to and utilize the extensive data collected. The IFG team’s expert advice is shared throughout the supply chain, ranging from the field to harvest, packaging and sales. Our number one goal is to support the success of our licensees.”
A Digital Transformation’s Impact
IFG’s unique business model – renting its varieties and trademarks rather than selling them – allows the company to engage with licensees and the marketplace each season. The data collected on fruit sales are extensive and provide invaluable insight when consolidated and anonymized. IFG is the only fruit breeder in the world deploying these systems and leveraging data in novel, value-adding ways.
Standardize Data Collection Tools
Higgins wanted to ensure everyone was using the same tools to collect and take notes in the field – as these readings are mission-critical to providing the right advice for growers in vastly different regions. As such, Higgins armed the IFG staff with more sophisticated solutions, such as globally standardized tools that can work offline to gather data and the development of an internal database to store and quickly analyze the vast amount of information collected. IFG’s database is unique and something that no other fruit breeder offers in terms of the research, reports, and tracking of variety performance data.
Higgins noted that prior efforts to collect data ranged from using spreadsheets to the paper and pencil method. “With all IFG personnel using the same tools, information is being collected in a more consistent manner which can now be fed into the AI algorithms fostering insights and leading indicators in easily digestible formats,” she said.
Organize and Streamline IFG’s Terabytes of Data
One of the main goals was to streamline IFG’s massive data quantities, allowing historical and recent data to be utilized for research and reporting to provide licensees with a snapshot of their performance in the marketplace. IFG uses its team to gather the tools necessary to help its licensees succeed and ensure that decisions are not made anecdotally.
Additionally, the new data strategy has been a windfall for the IFG research and development team engaged in the natural breeding processes to develop innovative and delicious new varieties of table grapes and sweet cherries.
“We have tens of thousands of new seedlings every year. The ability to sequence the genome of virtually all individuals of our breeding populations has helped create amazing new opportunities in breeding,” said Dr. Chris Owens, Lead Plant Breeder, IFG. “It also has its challenges. The volume of data is so large that it can be difficult to analyze and process. Still, fortunately, thanks to new software, we can now analyze and utilize the treasure-trove of information.”
Protect IFG IP
The new technologies and systems allow IFG to better manage a vast portfolio of intellectual property assets. This enables executives to know where every plant is being grown and produced throughout the globe, aiding in IFG’s IP protection and the rights of the licensees who grow IFG fruits.
“Digital transformation is one more way to highlight what it means to be a partner for life with our licensed growers,” said Andy Higgins, CEO of IFG. “Because of this transformation, IFG has insights across many markets that can be used to show licensees how to improve and be more successful in their plantings and to have more confidence that their planting decisions will meet their market and profit objectives. The use of this diverse data is unique to IFG and just another way that we are leading the way in fruit breeding and licensee support.”
Headquartered in Bakersfield, Calif., IFG is the world’s largest premium fruit-breeding company. Founded in 2001, the Company is internationally recognized for its top quality, non-GMO fruit varieties in the table grape, cherry and raisin industries that were pioneered by the Company’s co-founder and former Lead Plant Breeder, world-renowned fruit scientist Dr. David Cain. Following Dr. Cain’s retirement, the team is now led by Dr. Chris Owens. IFG patents and licenses its varieties to worldwide marketers and growers, with licensees in 18 countries and its fruit actively marketed in over 30 countries. For more information, visit www.ifg.world.