The agri-food sector has to cope with numerous issues to address its transition toward more sustainable practices. Such a transition might be enabled and sustained by digital technology. Indeed, the application of innovative technologies allows the implementation of sustainable practices and increases the economic and environmental sustainability of the sector. Smart agriculture and industry 4.0 are labels that also denote a policy-driven discourse aimed at triggering novel models of collaboration and coordination among firms, public actors, and research entities. Thus, their deployment brings about novel relational arrangements in territories and value chains.

This chapter presents the results of a systematic literature review on the intersection between digital applications and sustainability in agri-food firms’ strategies. The review was conducted using detailed criteria to identify academic articles and specific keywords. The time frame considered included the years 2010s–2020s. To analyze the selected dataset, we adopted an extended analytical framework of the sustainability pillars (economic, environmental, and social) and also considered the institutional environment. Sustainability in agriculture should be analyzed as a complex system with interconnected subsystems. We find that a holistic approach to agriculture as a system is perceived to be the way of advancing its understanding. We point out the urge to consider the social impact of innovative technologies, which includes both intended and unintended consequences associated with them. Moreover, the recognition of the role of the institutional environment for technological advancement is crucial for advising the decision-making and creation of supportive policies and research.