Can technology help eliminate food insecurity?
Here's how LIVEKINDLY Collective, the global plant-based food company, is helping to fix a broken food system
The global food crisis is getting worse. In 2020, at least 155 million people across 55 countries experienced problems stemming from food insecurity, ranging from malnutrition to starvation, according to the 2021 Global Report on Food Crises. That's up 20 million from the previous year and the highest in the report's five-year existence. Many of these people rely on an inefficient and costly food system—one centered on the consumption of meat.
“In the current broken animal-based food system, the world grows protein, which we then give to a cow or chicken, and the animal then consumes water, takes up space, generates CO2, and produces even less protein than was consumed by it in the first place," says Rogan Moore, chief digital and information officer at the LIVEKINDLY Collective, an organization that promotes and facilitates the benefits of plant-based diets. LIVEKINDLY Collective argues that, if people simply ate the protein—such as soybeans and yellow peas—we'd eliminate much of the waste and carbon emissions inherent in the meat-farming process.
Though more consumers have begun to embrace meat-free living over the past several years, particularly in countries like the US, the COVID-19 pandemic forced many to think more about not only their personal health, but also the health of their environment. Born at the start of the pandemic, in March 2020, LIVEKINDLY Collective launched just in time to address these increasing shifts in consumer attitudes, with its aim to transform the global food system quickly and at scale. This means developing seeds that can grow with less water, improving raw-material supply chains, making and promoting plant-based foods, and helping farmers gain carbon credits for their environmentally friendly practices. To meet these ambitious goals, Moore says LIVEKINDLY Collective needed to be able to move quickly like a lean startup, while running its operations “like a big food business."
That's where Genpact, a global professional services firm focused on digital transformation, came in. Working with LIVEKINDLY Collective from the start, Genpact has helped the organization realize its vision of becoming a cloud-based, agile, data-led organization by providing it with the digital infrastructure and operating model it needed for speedy growth. And with Genpact's support on M&A integration, the Collective made six acquisitions during pandemic lockdowns, says Tarun Chopra, Genpact's global transformation leader for consumer goods and retail. And all while working remotely. The company's predictive, AI-driven data insights also help LIVEKINDLY Collective reach consumers most effectively and eliminates the guesswork from farming and supply chain operations.
For example, on the consumer side, Genpact's technology allows LIVEKINDLY Collective to digest vast troves of data quickly, to help it scale and grow. “We look at data from different places," Chopra says. “Externally, [we look at] end customers such as market-research companies, major retailers, and social media. We combine that with internal financial and transactional data from the Collective's food brands, as well as trends from its lifestyle media platform, to give LIVEKINDLY Collective a full view of demand and supply." This view consists of what Chopra calls “predictive insights"—not just information on what plant-based products one retailer sold last week, but what consumers might buy on any given day in the future or what will influence them to become flexitarian.
LIVEKINDLY Collective's mission extends to making plant-based living the new norm and influencing the whole system, “from seed to fork," as Chopra puts it. On the farming end, Genpact's predictive analytics offer insights about rain patterns in South Africa, for example, where many farmers working with LIVEKINDLY Collective grow yellow peas for protein-filled, plant-based diets. Considering meteorological data alongside information on seed efficiency and land arability, LIVEKINDLY Collective can offer specific suggestions to farmers looking to employ the most economical and carbon-neutral practices. “With Genpact, we can visualize crop science data and overlay it with farm, soil, and weather data to optimize crop planning," Moore says. “That's how specific we can get."
This is crucial to LIVEKINDLY Collective's mission, as maximizing farmers' crop yields makes eating plant-based meals affordable. Moore can focus on this and other innovative processes at LIVEKINDLY Collective because he isn't mired down by the administrative work that many CIOs must tackle when managing physical assets. Cloud technology, which Genpact helped LIVEKINDLY Collective implement, eliminates much of that work with an on-demand service. “I can reinvest that energy and time in innovation and moving forward," Moore says.
Thanks to cloud technology, LIVEKINDLY Collective has been able to scale up quickly and internationally, using digital models for various aspects of its business instead of relying on cumbersome, physical assets in a centralized office space. It uses a standard digital commerce model for all its needs in that category, a different model for direct-to-consumer marketing, and yet another for retail. “The cloud is phenomenal because it makes the entire company asset-light and enables the team to work from anywhere," Chopra says.
Genpact also helped LIVEKINDLY Collective implement SAP's enterprise resource planning system to create a centralized platform that allows Collective employees across the globe to access the same information and data insights. “Genpact has played an active role across all of these projects," Moore says. In the future, the two organizations plan to work together to make LIVEKINDLY Collective's business operations even more predictive and proactive, with the continued objective of encouraging consumers to add more plant-based meals to their diets.
“This is one of those relationships where it isn't about what Genpact brings to LIVEKINDLY Collective. It's more about what LIVEKINDLY Collective and Genpact can bring to the whole ecosystem," Chopra says. “Both our organizations have a strong purpose. LIVEKINDLY Collective is transforming the global food system for better, and Genpact is relentlessly pursuing a world that works better for people. By combining digital technologies and analytics with deep industry knowledge and shared values, we are tackling this global challenge head on."
This article was first published in Fast Company.