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  • By Lynda Kiernan-Stone, Unconventional Ag Media

GrainCorp, GrainInnovate Co-Lead $9M Investment in Grain Integrity Platform AgriZoom

Fraud has been all too rampant in the grain industry in recent years, as a string of multi-million dollar schemes have been featured in the news, going so far as to spark the USDA’s National Organic Program to release new rules early this year aimed at stopping organic food crime.


“This rulemaking amends the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) organic regulations to strengthen oversight and enforcement of the production, handling, and sale of organic agricultural products,” stated the USDA. “The amendments protect integrity in the organic supply chain and build consumer and industry trust in the USDA organic label by strengthening organic control systems, improving farm to market traceability, and providing robust enforcement of the USDA organic regulations.”

Amid this market scenario, did you know that export grain can be analyzed up to 14 times before it reaches a customers' port? I didn’t.


With such cumbersome systems in place, and with the greater adoption of AI and other new technologies, it only follows that this existing framework is a target for improvement through technology.


Argentine agtech startup ZoomAgri is a global company stepping in to fill the need by using AI and machine learning for varietal recognition and quality testing on the Australian market.


Jaap Rommelaar, co-founder of ZoomAgri, explained that the technology was founded as a response to challenges they faced in grain and oilseed trading.


“We would purchase the commodities locally from farmers and get them into the silos, but when we asked the silo manager about the quality, they didn’t know,” said Rommelaar. “On top of that, we’d export vessels of soybeans and only receive a report about a quality issue two days later, when it was too late to change anything.”


Rommelaar continued, “We eventually found a way to conduct one scan using artificial intelligence, where we could analyze the quality and see the variety of a certain grain kernel. We now work with clients in 25 countries and have combined technology, agronomy and commercial industry experience to grow into the company we are now.”


In support of the company’s growth, GrainCorp and GrainInnovate, the VC fund launched in partnership by Grains Research Development Corporation (GRDC) and Artesian, have co-led a $9 million Series A investment round in the company with participation from existing investor SP Ventures.


Already active in the Australian market testing barley, ZoomAgri noted that it launched this round to gain backing to upscale and broaden its commodity coverage.


Commenting on the investment, Fernando Felquer, head of business development, GRDC, explained that technology is a key area of investment for the research corporation.


“Development of new technology that can complement or eventually even replace current quality assessment methods to make transactions faster and more accurate is an important area of investment that will enhance efficiency across the entire supply chain,” said Felquer.


“This is why GRDC, through GrainInnovate, is pleased to continue to support the company’s technology development program and roll out in Australia.”


“We’ve been trialing two ZoomAgri units at our receival sites on the east coast of Australia for the past few years, to detect sieving and quality defects in barley,” explained Robert Spurway, CEO, GrainCorp.


“They have developed advanced prototypes during the last three years for variety testing and physical quality determination, and our investment will support more product development into new commodities, such as wheat.”


In a vote of confidence in the company’s platform and abilities, ZoomAgri was recently approved as an official method used by Mitteleuropäische Brautechnische Analysenkommission e.V. (MEBAK), the Central European Commission for Brewing Analysis, to use the technology to analyze varietal purity of malting barley throughout the supply chain.


“It’s an exciting step forward,” said Rommelaar, adding, “the objective in Australia now is to grow our team and continue developing solutions to add value to the whole Australian supply chain, from growers and handlers to processors and exporters.”



~ Lynda Kiernan-Stone is editor in chief with GAI Media, and is managing editor and daily contributor for Global AgInvesting’s AgInvesting Weekly News and Agtech Intel News, as well as HighQuest Group’s Unconventional Ag. She can be reached at lkiernan-stone@globalaginvesting.com.


*The content put forth by Global AgInvesting News and its parent company HighQuest Partners is intended to be used and must be used for informational purposes only. All information or other material herein is not to be construed as legal, tax, investment, financial, or other advice. Global AgInvesting and HighQuest Partners are not a fiduciary in any manner, and the reader assumes the sole responsibility of evaluating the merits and risks associated with the use of any information or other content on this site.


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Contact Lynda Kiernan-Stone,

editor of Unconventional Ag News, to submit a story for consideration: 
lkiernan-stone@highquestgroup.com

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