Who Owns Today's Leatherslade Farm News

Von Boetticher: "Clarify who owns data and who has to protect it!"

“The international competitive pressure and increasing consumer demands are forcing the food industry to optimize products and processes in ever shorter cycles and to reduce costs. Digitization can help us here, ”says Dr. Christian von Boetticher convinced.

The close link between product and data security is a major challenge for companies, explains the deputy chairman of the Federal Association of the German Food Industry (BVE) in an interview with top agrar online.

Business and politics should jointly set the framework for more data security. “The economy must, in particular, promote standardization at important interfaces and politicians must create national and European legal frameworks for digitization,” demands the BVE vice-president, who is also the managing director of the food manufacturer Peter Kölln.

In addition, elementary questions of who the data belongs to, how secure it is and who has to protect it, have not yet been legally clarified. "If we want to make faster progress with digitization, we need more broadband expansion in rural areas, more industry-specific research and better financing options for start-ups," says von Boetticher with certainty.

Where are the greatest opportunities and potentials of digitization for the food industry?

from Boetticher: Due to the high international competitive pressure and the increasing consumer demands on food, companies in the food industry have to optimize products and processes in ever shorter cycles and reduce costs. Digitization can do that. The digitization and intelligent networking of horizontal and vertical value creation processes can also improve transparency, planning security, quality and customer orientation in food production.

The use of intelligent information technology and software systems is already finding its way into the industry and making the potential of digitized and networked systems clear. For example, real-time information can be converted into timely and resource-saving quality production and seamless traceability of the food can be ensured. Networked systems can also help to optimize energy consumption, production, batch tracking or the use of raw materials and to generate production-related key figures for management. In order to support conscious consumption, “intelligent food production” can also better adapt the produced range to the demand of the respective customer. The list of positive aspects of digitization is much longer, but is beyond the scope of this interview.

In which areas does digitization already bring your members concrete financial and other advantages?

from Boetticher: Compared to other industrial sectors, the food industry can already point to many best practice examples for Industry 4.0 applications. Digitization is not a business area in itself, but ideally optimizes all business areas. Of course, it is entirely company-specific where the greatest potential for networking is seen. For one, this is the complete traceability of products back to the origin, for the other, individualized production using 3D printing, broader training for employees through online training, or better customer loyalty through digital information offers.

Which digital questions and topics are your members working on specifically?

from Boetticher: Above all, it is important to support small and medium-sized companies with digitization and networking. Associations like BVE can be important multipliers here. A major challenge lies in the close link between product and data security. Business and politics must jointly set the framework for more data security. In particular, the economy must promote standardization at important interfaces. Politicians are called upon to create the necessary national and, above all, European legal framework for digitization, to strengthen the digital infrastructure and to promote digital innovations.

In addition, society and consumers must also be more closely involved in digitization. Customer data are key products for intelligent production, which is why clear framework conditions for the use of data must be created here as well. Consumers must also be empowered to use the information available.

Ultimately, increasing digitization and networking also means a transformation in the world of work, especially in the food industry, the use of Industry 4.0 applications increases the need for skilled workers, but also for training and further training or retraining of workers. The great opportunities and challenges that Industry 4.0 offers the industry must therefore be strategically organized and supported. That is what BVE does.

In which areas of digitization do your members primarily invest?

from Boetticher: Much more important is the question of where to invest together! The establishment of learning platforms and competence centers for Industry 4.0 in food production can promote implementation and further development in the entire industry. More support is needed for the industry from politicians.

How is digitization changing the business relationship between farmers, agricultural traders and processors?

from Boetticher: We are not only dealing with increasing transparency, but also with an increasing volume of data in the value chain. This can have many advantages. For example, the requirements for visible sustainability aspects and their complete compliance, such as environmentally friendly use of resources, compliance with social standards, quality and freshness, naturalness and taste can be met by using the supply chain and the corresponding processes both internally (vertical integration) and be digitized in cooperation with the supply chain partners in the value chain (farmer, wholesale, processing, transport, retail).

The horizontal integration of the value chain is not a new idea. Leading supply chain experts have long been aware of the advantages of integration beyond their own company boundaries. So far, however, the information systems available have not been able to map the decentralized processes and to efficiently store and process the huge amounts of data, or only very inadequately. The question of who the data belongs to must also be legally clarified so that the data exchange can function with confidence.

Digitization makes it possible to design your work processes much more efficiently. How great is the efficiency potential that needs to be leveraged?

from Boetticher: Only in the future will it be possible to reliably present specific figures across all industries.

Who benefits from this financially in particular, the processors, the trade or the farmers?

from Boetticher: Everyone who has the courage to innovate benefits.

How important are start-ups for you that develop ideas or solutions for specific detailed problems?

from Boetticher: Very important, Germany can become even more attractive as a location here.

What obstacles do you currently see in the digital development in Germany?

from Boetticher: We need more broadband expansion in rural areas, more industry-specific research, better financing options for start-ups, more responsibility for product safety for the manufacturers of digital solutions and less bureaucracy.

What are the federal and state governments doing for digital expansion? Are the activities enough?

from Boetticher: Germany is still lagging behind in terms of broadband expansion and mobile network coverage. Our schools, universities and educational institutions must also be better equipped and teaching and learning content adapted. In addition, the numerous federal and state activities are often not well coordinated. We need clear competencies and responsibilities in the governments, because a heterogeneous sector like the food industry suffers from slow and uncoordinated implementation.

What framework conditions do you expect from politics?

from Boetticher: The predominantly medium-sized and owner-managed companies in the food industry can only survive global competition if they succeed in establishing themselves on the market with innovative products, processes and services. This also includes the transfer of innovations such as Industry 4.0 into industry-specific applications. The aim of politics must therefore be to create the necessary framework conditions to give more support to the research activities of medium-sized companies.

Indirect funding measures, such as industrial community research (IGF) in particular, have proven to be the most broad-based instruments of technology policy with great leverage due to their open-topic character and their cross-sector use, and should be promoted more intensively. Often only industrial joint research enables medium-sized companies to conduct research and development. It promotes the ability of companies to cooperate, embeds them in innovative research networks and clearly supports the training of qualified specialists for industry.

What legal uncertainties does digitization bring?

from Boetticher: Unfortunately, there are still a few at the moment: Who owns which data, how secure is this data and who has to protect which data? And that is certainly just the tip of the iceberg of questions. There are already some legal requirements - see General Data Protection Regulation or IT Security Act - but here too, implementation is still associated with many questions.

In Germany, data protection is an important issue: Who owns the data obtained and who has access to it?

from Boetticher:While it used to be a matter of clearly defining which personal data companies and the state were allowed to request from citizens (topic: protection of personal data from citizens) and how they had to deal with it, nowadays every minute matters With the help of apps on smartphones, dozens of personal data are given consciously or unconsciously, much more about securing the given data from unauthorized access and unintentional use. Legislators have to face this debate about data security.

How well are farmers prepared for the digital age?

from Boetticher: I experience that agriculture is grappling intensively with the topic of digitization and that the industry benefits from it.

The questions were asked by top agrar editor-in-chief Dr. Ludger Schulze Pals


Dr. Christian von Boetticher is Deputy Chairman of the Federal Association of the German Food Industry (BVE) and has been Managing Director of Elmshorn-based food manufacturer Peter Kölln since September 2015. With its 365 employees, the company produces classic oat flakes, ready-made muesli mixes and other oat-based products. With this, Kölln generates an annual turnover of almost € 129 million.


Dr. Christian von Boetticher will also be on the topic of digitization for the BVE at the congress "Farm & Food 4.0: In the middle of the revolution - looking for opportunities for the added value of tomorrow " on January 22nd, 2018 in the bcc Berlin Congress Center. Further information on the conference can be found at www.farm-and-food.com. You can also register there at short notice or directly on site on the day of the event if you want to participate.