Indigo Agriculture, a company dedicated to improving farmer profitability through sustainable agriculture, has launched Indigo Transport, its digital logistics platform designed to connect shippers and carriers to more efficiently haul agricultural products. FreightWaves spoke with Frank Crespo, Indigo Ag’s chief supply chain officer, to discuss the impact Indigo Transport would create in the agricultural ecosystem.
“On the Indigo Marketplace platform, we are bringing together buyers and sellers of grain crops to use the platform for commercial deals and transactions, and in that space, you have to transport all that grain to the final destination. At Indigo Transport, we look to simplify this whole journey of selling and buying grain,” said Crespo.
Launched in June 2018, the Indigo Marketplace has found significant traction, with over $10 billion in grain inventory submitted to its system to date. Now with its integration to Indigo Transport, all the grain on the marketplace can be hauled without the need for customers to leave the platform. Growers would have to look for bids on the Indigo Marketplace platform, accept the highest value bid they get, and then ship the grain through Indigo Transport – making the process seamless and complete with just a few clicks on the dashboard.
Crespo spoke about the inefficiencies in the agricultural ecosystem, pointing out the typical lack of transparency in logistics operations like scheduling pickup and drop-offs. “When you play the game without technology, you have to deal with manual transactions, particularly when you’re talking about cancellations or changes due to weather. This is because you’re going to the farms and dealing with conditions that may require rescheduling or delays,” he said.
In such a scenario, the grower comes under pressure, because he would have to manage the hauling process as well. Crespo contends that the brokers in the space charge high fees which he remarked could be more competitive but are not, due to the inherent opacity lodged within the agriculture supply chain operations.
“We look for solutions to improve that situation for growers and also increase efficiency and capital utilization of agricultural transportation assets. Many of the assets are owned by growers who use them very infrequently and only to serve the purpose of their own farms,” said Crespo. “Through our platform, growers can use their assets more efficiently and effectively, while improving their revenue stream in the process. We are providing a holistic solution for many different stakeholders.”
Indigo Ag’s advent into the logistics space is focused on creating better economics for growers and to generate solutions that drive change at the industry’s core. In the beginning, the company was working with growers directly, bringing microbial solutions to tweak seeds prior to being planted. For this, the company required transportation services to haul the seeds to the growers and needed it again to transport harvests to the end customers who bought the grain.
The company realized that the only part of its supply chain that was not in its control was the hauling process, making the newly launched Indigo Transport a natural transition for the company. Indigo Transport helps streamline the entire supply chain process and makes it more transparent and manageable.
Crespo stated that the platform has gotten a great response from its customer base. “Though carriers who’ve been in the business have established their connections with growers and buyers, having a consistent and efficient way to interface with stakeholders will offer new opportunities that aren’t necessarily available to them in the marketplace,” he said. “When they connect with us, they will get additional opportunities that they didn’t have before. This has led to us having an accelerated pace of carrier enrollments on the platform. And we will continue to build on our service and grow our carrier-based population with the value proposition we’ve promised.”