Across industries, enterprises are embracing digital transformation. They’re adopting new technologies to keep pace with market changes, respond to customer demands, and stay competitive.
This movement extends to the food and beverage (F&B) sector, where leaders are actively looking for ways to improve their back-end operations while staying responsive to partner, customer, and stakeholder needs.
Today, we’re looking at a few of the top technology trends in the food and beverage industry and the benefits that should make F&B CIOs take notice.
5 Technology Trends in the Food and Beverage Industry
1. Robotics Enable Efficient Food Production
Food production is increasing – food and beverage companies need intelligent machines to help them keep up. According to one report, 67% of F&B leaders say their gross throughput increased in 2022 by an average of 24%, representing a 2% increase over 2021.
Much of this growth is in response to new sales and business, as 33% of leaders cite overall demand as the main factor behind this increase.
However, while demand is up, efficiency continues to lag. In the same report, 61% of F&B leaders said they want to expand their flexibility on the production line, and 55% want to expand their packaging lines and production facilities.
While some companies may choose to simply hire more people to meet this need, others are looking at smart technology. Today, there are robotic machines that can assist line workers and perform some of their same functions. Because they can perform these jobs faster and safer, they’re often used to reduce risk to human workers.
For instance, companies can use robotic butchers to handle intricate cuts of meat in factories, freeing up team members to work on less risky procedures. You can even find these robots in restaurants, where some businesses are using them to cook and prepare food before it goes to the table. From preparing salads and warming bowls to steaming pasta and plating entrees, they’re slashing work times and increasing productivity rates.
Food & Beverage ERP Success Story
Meat processor works with Panorama to select ideal ERP solution and negotiate cost savings with the vendor.
2. Automation Simplifies In-House Tasks
A significant portion of F&B work takes place behind the scenes. Back-office tasks, such as scheduling and staffing, can quickly overwhelm an establishment, especially if workers are still managing these procedures by hand.
Automated systems, including manufacturing ERP systems, help take the strain and legwork out of the equation. These cloud-based platforms can automate many administrative and operational tasks. This includes food safety and maintenance activities that, while required for industry compliance, can be time-consuming for staff.
Some establishments have taken it a step further, implementing online ordering systems that allow them to bypass the third-party fees enacted by most takeout and delivery services. Many of these systems include other tools, such as marketing automation, customer loyalty functions, and data analytics to drive personalized order suggestions.
3. Smart Technology Accelerates Food Safety
Food safety and regulatory compliance are always on the mind of F&B professionals. There are four agencies that enact and carry out industry regulations, including:
- The Food and Drug Administration (FDA)
- The Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS)
- The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
- National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS)
While these regulatory bodies are setting standards around operational traceability, customers are communicating similar expectations. According to one study, 94% of consumers are more likely to be loyal to a food brand that offers complete supply chain transparency, and 34% say they’re willing to switch to a more transparent brand if necessary.
Thankfully, there are smart technologies that can help brands stay safe and compliant. This includes tools such as IoT-connected sensors that help managers:
- Maintain safe temperatures
- Count inventory
- Examine ingredients
- Facilitate delivery distribution
There are even mobile apps and digital tools that allow companies to create and share checklists with a few clicks. With these lists, they can track food safety audits and results, rather than storing that data in paper records. They can also store automatic timestamps to track when key events and updates occurred.
4. Better Forecasting With AI
Demand and production go hand-in-hand. For an F&B company to optimize their warehousing operations, they must first know how much (and which) products they need based on customer needs and preferences.
Instead of relying on manual reports and forecasts, companies can use artificial intelligence (AI) to predict what their buyers might do next. With AI-powered software, they can create forecasts, track demand, and order supplies accordingly. This saves money and time and prevents overruns.
In the same vein, F&B leaders are turning to inventory management systems that can help them:
- Predict optimal ordering times
- Reduce food costs
- Ensure a steady product stream
- Mitigate the risk of critical issues such as surpluses and delays
5. Enhanced IT Enables Digitization
As F&B companies adopt these technologies at fast rates, they’re realizing they need an IT infrastructure that can keep up.
Old or outdated systems or hardware can lower ROI and impede productivity. As such, companies are looking for ways to modernize their internal networks and expand their IT capacity. Key elements they’re adding include:
- Robust Wi-Fi networks (both customer-facing and back-end)
- SD-WAN networks to improve reliability and application control
- Cybersecurity software to protect sensitive data
An ERP selection consultant can help companies move away from legacy systems toward more tech-savvy alternatives. This process can be multi-faceted and it’s important to make the change strategically.
Do You Have Regulations to Follow, Customers to Please, and Goals to Meet?
If you’re at the helm of an F&B company, you know that relying on outdated methods can only get your business so far.
Looking at these technology trends in the food and beverage industry, you can see where this sector is headed. Looking ahead, we can expect to see more use of smart systems supplementing the work of teams on the floor. As a result, companies will become smarter, safer, and better prepared for long-term growth.
Our ERP consultants can help you navigate the various enterprise software options. Contact us below for a free consultation.