Top 3 food industry trends to get on board with
Few industries are as impacted by trends as food and drink. From processors to manufacturers and distributors, adaption is the name of the game, which always must be carefully balanced with safety, quality and sustainability of operations and product. With IT at the heart of food and drink industry resiliency and effectiveness, we’ve analysed the top 3 technology trends that you should get on board with in 2021. Let’s jump in!
Trend #1 – Blockchain
Having cut its teeth in the financial sector, blockchain now firmly has its sights set on food and drink manufacturing. Not to say blockchain will be the standard in the next 24 months or so, but we do expect significant numbers to experiment with its application for food and drink processing, manufacturing, and distribution. This is because by using blockchain – a type of decentralised, immutable and transparent digital data ledger – every aspect of the food industry can increase its effectiveness.
Blockchain presents huge opportunity to increase efficiency, transparency, compliance and even cross-chain collaboration. Though not the first industry to spring to mind upon hearing the tech term, the food and drink supply chain – with its many steps, participants, regulations and safety obligations – is a natural fit for blockchain.
This is because every participant, from farmers to processers, manufacturers to certifying agencies, distributors to retailers, produces and stores critical product information (on their own servers) that if not shared and accessible, can affect safety. Whether that’s a particular antibiotic, a chilled delivery delay or a missed raw material source – the result is the same. Inaccuracy and uncertainty of product, and inefficiency of process.
In any supply chain, the next player down relies on the information provided by the player before them. If any data is accidently or intentionally incorrect, both consumers and parties in the supply chain are cheated with potentially dangerous consequences, with it costing time and money to rectify errors. But with blockchain, food and drink manufacturers, processers and distributors can benefit from an automated, secure, immutable platform where data can be stored and accessed by every participant in the supply chain.
When integrated with Internet of Things (IoT) devices, blockchain becomes even more effective. Increasingly popular IoT applications in the food and drink industry focus on using sensors and trackers to capture data such as temperature, humidity, raw material ratios and other key performance parameters, the advantages of which are:
- Increasing accuracy to offer simpler regulatory compliance
- Streamlining the supply chain to reduce costs and increase capacity and margins
- Expediting the food recall process
- Enabling major financial savings in food fraud
- Overall, strengthening and stabilising participant businesses
Trend #2 – Visibility
Even before the pandemic but more so today, consumer and buyer demand for enhanced transparency is soaring. Recent years have seen high profile food-related product recalls, ranging from bacterial infections to foreign objects, while changing dietary habits and a renewed love of eating local have also put pressure on transparency. Although safety is of course number one, strong sales undeniably important and by giving consumers the experience they want, you’ll build relevancy, trust and gain that competitive edge.
No matter how confident you are in your safety, quality, and sourcing credentials, unless you can prove them, expect business to be affected. Granular visibility comes from real-time, complete data insights which in this industry, rests entirely on the strength of your ERP. So, in order to keep up with the consumer trend toward transparency, invest in your ERP from top to bottom, with a particular focus on integration and automation.
Trend # 3 – Plant-based innovation
The plant-based boom is fuelled by growing numbers of consumers wishing to cut down their meat consumption. Most studies suggest this is due to a desire to reduce environmental impact, with switching up our diets an accessible and affordable step. As such, demand for tasty, healthy meat and dairy alternatives has reached never-before-seen levels and innovation (along with consumer and retail buyer expectations) is moving at incredible pace.
Bur what does this mean for established food and drink manufacturers? In short, if you’re a processor or manufacturer of animal products, you need to ensure that your IT infrastructure is configured for resilience – making the most out of data insights, integration, automation and IoT – to remain stable in an evolving market of plant-based competitors. If there’s room for product diversity in your operation, speak to an IT provider about how to make agility your business default. If it suits your brand, being able to adapt and scale at speed could become your secret weapon against competitors with similar interests.
Are you poised to take on a new trend in 2021, or need to enable more powerful agility? Robust, intelligent and flexible IT is the basis for any effective strategic change. So, make sure that your tech is able to support and enhance your business objectives in 2021 and speak to a Sentis expert on 0345 862 2930 or click here.