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FDA taps Palantir in food supply chain partnership

Oct 25, 2022
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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is tapping big data analytics to help it expand and “modernize the agency’s approach” to ensuring food supply chain resilience — most recently through a deal with software provider Palantir Technologies.

Why it matters: The FDA has made several investments to modernize its infrastructure and adapt more of its processes to the cloud.

Driving the news: More than 10% of U.S. householders were food insecure for at least some time of the year, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

  • And that gets starker with households with income below the federal poverty line about 32.1% of households in that metric were food insecure.

What's happening: Palantir was awarded a $22 million contract by the agency, expanding its relationship with the tech firm. Palantir will serve as the central operating platform to help the agency monitor food supply chain disruptions and more aptly respond.

What they’re saying: “Now more than ever public health preparedness is central to our security and safety as a nation and we are honored to support our leading institutions with best-in-class technology to anticipate and plan for these events,” Palantir chief medical officer William Kassler says.

The big picture: Underpinning some of the trends in supply chain investment is big data, as companies increasingly seek to leverage the tech to manage inventory and ordering and better predict supply and demand.

  • Investors have poured some $8.6 billion into supply chain tech startups in the second quarter, according to PitchBook data.

How it works: The company will pull data from multiple government agencies, including the USDA and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to spot likely areas of supply chain disruption.

Of note: The agency launched a pilot with Palantir in 2020, partially in response to the COVID-19 pandemic which sent ripple effects through the food system.

  • Palantir’s program also helped the agency with its federal response to the infant formula shortage, which was precipitated by a recall.
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