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Digital disruption in the bioeconomy is changing consumer behaviour

The digital transformations of our societies were discussed from a sustainable perspective during two inter-connected seminars hosted by the Nordic Council of Ministers at the 8th Annual Forum for the European Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region (EUSBSR) in Berlin 13-14 June.

15.06.2017
Photographer
Liv la Cour Belling/norden.org

While the first session focused on Tech StartUps and Digital Transformation in rural areas, the second session took a look at the digital challenges and opportunities in the food and forest industry highlighting questions like: How is digitalisation transforming the bioeconomy industries and markets? And how can the Nordic and Baltic bioeconomies turn potential risks of digital disruption into opportunities?

Connecting industries with people

According to Jaakko Kuusisaari from Tieto, Finland, digitalisation is not just a good business case, it can help realise a green industrial transition: “Bioeconomy and digitalisation is a perfect match for each other. They are both deeply connected to a profound change in consumer behaviour and in the way we look at the world. Their union will create abundant opportunities and drive green growth.”

”The new developments in the bioeconomy have actually changed the forest industry from a typical sunset industry to what I would like to call a sunrise industry. Soon people will start 3D printing a long range of consumer products ranging from clothes to furniture – all from wood”

Soon people will start 3D printing a long range of consumer products ranging from clothes to furniture – all from wood.

Another example, highlighted in the discussions was how the digital transformation leads to increased participation of women in the traditional bioeconomy. Forests are increasingly owned by urban dwellers and in Värmland, Sweden, for example 8.000 women are among the county’s 25.000 forest owners.

In Latvia, new farms are being established to meet the demand from the newly founded Direct Buying Movement. As Davis Bojars explained: “Direct Buying movement in Latvia is built on three basic values; friendship, voluntary work and organic agriculture, and we need digital solutions to enable farmers to directly interact with consumers”.

Print your food on demand

Keynote speaker and chair of the Nordic Bioeconomy Panel, Hordur Kristinsson argues that the digital disruption is already here: “Disruption exists on all levels of the food industry – from farm to fork. We need to be ready and be leaders, not just followers.”

Disruption exists on all levels of the food industry – from farm to fork. We need to be ready and be leaders, not just followers.

”Many people think digitalisation will mean loss of jobs. This is not true; we will lose professions but there will be a huge amount of new jobs in new industries – just like in the industrial revolution. There will be winners and losers and the winners will be those who are best prepared."

”Advances in the food technology could easily mean that plant-based “meat and dairy” will become equally good and much cheaper than the real thing. This will disrupt the present agricultural and food systems."

Inclusive Digitalisation

The two sessions under the headline ‘Inclusive Digitalisation’ were organised by Nordic Council of Ministers in the role of Policy Area Bioeconomy and Policy Area Innovation (EUSBSR), and in collaboration with Nordregio and Baltic Development Forum. 

The bioeconomy workshop follows up on the previous work on sustainable Nordic Bioeconomy presented in the report on 25 Nordic Cases.

Programme 8th Annual Forum of EUSBSR

Watch the session (on twitter): Tech StartUps and Digital Transformation in rural areas

Watch the session (on twitter): When Digi meets Bio - digital disruption in the bioeconomy

Download the report: 25 Cases for Sustainable Change

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