Twiga Foods has partnered with Silafrica, a manufacturer and supplier of plastic and packaging solutions in Kenya to launch the Smart Crate to power its tech-enabled food distribution business.
The crates, made from 100% recycled plastic, represent a major milestone in line with the company’s commitment to a circular economy, and in creating responsible and sustainable solutions that respect the planet and its biodiversity.
The technology uses an integration of Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) and Near-Field Communication (NFC), which use radio waves to send real-time data as the crate moves from one touchpoint to another. The crate will be frequently scanned at specific checkpoints within the course of its journey using the tags on the crates.
It enables the farmers to conveniently key in information about the product with a single tap of their phone. Thereafter, they can follow the course of the produce’s journey from the pick-up point when it leaves their farm to the drop-off stage, when it reaches the vendors in the market, ensuring that they are actively involved throughout the process.
An upgrade to the regular crates would enable geolocation advantages as well. This will be vital for Twiga Foods when tracking the number of crates en-route, how much product is on transit, and how many trucks would be required to transport all the produce.
The crates are then brought back for reuse afterwards. This offers operational and logistical advantages that will assist in minimizing post-harvest waste, offer efficient management of their distribution channels, and aid in utilizing their resources more efficiently for a more streamlined and sustainable approach to distribution.
Usually, when farmers produce the products, they need the means to transport them in safe secondary packaging that would ensure that their produce can reach the markets in the best quality possible. Silafrica’s Group Executive Director, Akshay Shah states, “The thought process behind the crates unique design will be able to prevent damage to the fresh farm produce, ensuring that it arrives to the end consumers safe and sound.”
Since 2014, Twiga has worked to streamline Kenya’s fragmented, inefficient food distribution system. The company purchases fresh produce from remote, hard-to-reach farms across the country. It then packages, stores, and distributes it to urban produce vendors, who place orders through Twiga’s digital sales platform.
By reducing inefficiencies throughout the agricultural supply chain, Twiga helps smallholder farmers move their products to market and earn more consistent, reliable sales. The company’s convenient delivery system also improves livelihoods for urban produce vendors by saving time, reducing costs, and improving product quality.