France Set to Take Back the Throne as Top Wine Producer in the World
Every year countries jockey for position, hoping to be named the top producers and exporters for their agricultural specialties. When it comes to wine, all eyes are on European icons like France, Italy, and Spain – the big question is always which one will come out on top. Last year Italy pulled ahead, but this year the numbers are all pointing to France as the top wine producer in both Europe and the world.
According to reports, France is expected to produce as much as 46.2 million hectoliters of wine by the end of 2014, putting it far ahead of Italy who is currently gunning for second place with an estimated 44 million hectoliters. But France’s rise to the top spot didn’t necessarily come easy. It’s been a tough year for industry in general – especially in Europe, where unusual weather has made for exceedingly unpleasant conditions. An unexpectedly wet and rainy spring and summer caused a 15 percent production drop in Italy between 2013 and 2014, and an even more drastic 19 percent production decrease in third-place contender Spain.
France, on the other hand, experienced damaging cooler conditions during the 2012 and 2013 growing seasons with unusual weather patterns like hailstorms doing critical damage to important wine production regions like Burgundy and Bordeaux; in contrast, this year the country’s wine industry has seen better conditions and production growth that has industry insiders feeling good about this year’s output:
Germany and Portugal should complete the top five producers in Europe, with their comparatively small industries offering 9.7 million and 5.9 million hectoliters respectively. For the entire world, those positions are expected to be filled by the United States and Argentina.
Tech firm BestBees helps honey bees with remote monitoring
The global honey industry was worth an estimated $9.2b in 2020. Out of the 100 crop species which feed 90% of the world's population, 70 of them are pollinated by bees. In addition, 1.4b farming jobs, depend on the pollination of crops carried out by bees.
Bees are vitally important to planet earth and everyone on it - but they are in danger. Between April 2019 and 2020, 43% of US hives were lost. Bee hives have been devastated by:
- Climate change
Tech firms have taken on one of the world’s oldest occupations, beekeeping, in order to maintain the welfare of the the mighty bumblebee.
Best Bees Company bumbles forward
US business, Best Bees Company, was shocked at the plight of the American bee colonies.
Best Bees install hives and then use an advanced software system to monitor and record the health of each bee hive.
"We are looking at why thriving beehives live", said Wilson-Rich, chief scientific officer at Best Bees. "We need to understand why they're doing better. With that research data we can get wonderful benefits... it is telling us how the bees are actually doing."
Best Bees also harvests and bottles the honey for the property owners, of where the hives sit, to enjoy.
The data is being shared with Harvard University and Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where researchers are trying to understand and assist the bees in their duty.
Tech saves beekeepers time and labour
The Irish business ApisProtect is also utilising technology to help the bees, through their wireless in-hive sensors, which transmit data.
"We collect temperature, humidity, sound and acceleration [of the bees flying out of the hive] data," said Fiona Edwards Murphy, chief executive "What we do is extract those raw data points and then use machine learning to convert that into useful information. We tell the beekeeper, for example, which hives are growing and which hives are shrinking, or which hives are alive and which hives are dead."
The technology means beekeepers no longer have to manually inspect hives, which saves time and effort and allows the bees to go about their business uninterrupted.
"In a commercial operation only about 20% of hives at any given time need intervention," concludes Edwards Murphy. "The problem is that beekeepers don't know which 20%. They literally go out and pick around a hive to see if it's the one they should be looking at. What we do is enable them to get a picture of what's happening in all their hives, spread across a large area, before they even leave their office in the morning. For commercial beekeepers, we see a 50% reduction in labour costs. That obviously has a huge impact on the business of beekeeping."