By Anne-Marie Butler
Eggs, the classic, must-have ingredient for every kitchen, are a staple in our daily diets. And while it is a known fact that happy chickens lay more eggs, happy egg producers are able to track more of their production by using Big Data.
The BC Egg Marketing Board, founded in 1967, works with approximately 132 family-owned and operated egg farms to bring the goodness of B.C. fresh eggs to the table. BC Egg oversees and manages the production, grading, packing, marketing and transportation of all regulated eggs in B.C.
In the province of British Columbia, we have over 2.6 million birds of quota, producing 66 million dozen eggs, or about 800 million eggs a year. Because the egg industry contributes more than $95 million to the provincial economy of British Columbia, BC Egg requires a strategic system to analyze information such as the trends of the egg production and the demands of their customers.
However, BC Egg used a traditional offline, paper-based system which made it difficult to oversee and assess production trends and other key information in a timely manner. This information is crucial particularly depending on the time of year – for example, a holiday season is filled with customers purchasing eggs to bake their holiday pies, cookies, cakes and other treats. In order to cater to our customers needs, we needed to be able to track our production at any given time and to be able to forecast demand accurately.
A digital platform, enabled by IBM Big Data and analytics, now allows us to do just that. New analytics capabilities integrate production and inspection data from hundreds of farms to meet production demands and track on farm audit results. We have created online portals for our stakeholders to access updated data and information, such as forecasted production. Producers can now view their weekly production, chick placement permits and quota credit application, all via their SmartPhone.
BC Egg inspectors use a master sheet to gather qualitative and quantitative data on their tablets to assess the on farm audit results and animal care standards. We are also launching three additional portals this month which will allow three other stakeholder groups to both view and verify farm data, making these aspects of data collection and the verification process fully integrated.
By converting to this digital system, we have improved on farm inspection productivity by 66 percent and with the new portals anticipate similar results with our administrative team.
Thanks to Big Data and analytics, the future has never looked so good for your favorite ingredient.