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The adoption of technology in the food & beverages industry has grown exponentially over the past decades and isn’t planning on stopping any time soon. Thanks to technology, users now know more about what they eat, they can find healthier alternatives, supermarkets can track their sales data and choose which products to feature to boost their sales.
This article will explore what the food and beverages industry is, why technology matters in this sector, and how businesses implement technology.
The food and beverages industry concerns any business that sells drinks or food, the primary focus is on people who are far away from their homes, the second is in supermarkets that provide customers more locally.
In both ways, the main concern of the industry is the customer, how are we going to make sure he gets what he wants, at the right time and place. On one side, the focus is on providing ready-to-go meals and beverages, on the other fresh products that can be cooked at home.
In both settings, ease of use and comfort is a priority, the space estimates that finding healthier product alternatives is responsible for 23% of their annual growth, and that product innovations are responsible for 38% of that growth.
On the other side, the sector is extremely competitive and estimates that pricing pressure is responsible for 51% of the sector’s barriers to growth.
Most brands in the food and beverage industry promote their brands through social media and their online stores and promotions. As the industry shifts to the digital space, the use of technology in the sector is increasingly important.
Let’s now look at the reasons why technology is of increasing importance in the business.
As product innovation is responsible for almost 40% of the annual growth of businesses in the food and beverage sector, technology provides an incredibly powerful tool to innovate.
This might be in new packaging that might be more resistant, or new ways of producing the products that may be cheaper, more efficient, or simply make the food healthier.
Technology allows businesses to innovate and pursue what they think their users will need, this might be healthier foods or drinks.
The idea is that novelty sells well, being able to write “new” on the packaging is already a selling point, as users want to try out their new product. The techniques used are sometimes true novelty but other times, it might just be another package shape that dupes the client into thinking he’s buying something new, when he’s really buying the exact same thing, just packaged differently.
The technology in the industry deals with the accumulated data from the users, this means trying to understand what clients are buying and for what reason. This analysis directly contributes to various innovations in the sector as it allows the industry to gain a better insight into the ongoing trends and the customer’s behavior.
This data comes both from supermarkets that can deliver information on the number of items they sold, in how much time and how the product was advertised. For example, the place where an item sits on a shelf greatly influences its sales, if it’s at eye level, it should sell very easily, if it’s very high or close to the ground, it should sell a lot less.
As businesses in the sector often deal with different countries and export to several clients, it can be difficult to manage stocks. A large part of the sector, therefore, relies on technology to manage their products, making sure supermarkets get their orders correct, and that clients are delivered in time and with the right quantities.
Most warehouses are automated and use algorithmic management programs to ensure their deliveries are in order.
The use of technology in the sector has allowed the development of products we now use very regularly.
This part of the industry focuses on chemical engineering and packaging. Producing ready-to-go meals that can keep their texture when microwaved. The packages also have to stay intact, this means you can’t use regular plastic that would melt at around 60-70°c.
Technology not only focuses on microwavable meals but rather on products that can easily be prepared by the customer. This includes powder meals that have to be rehydrated.
This trend and innovation follow the previous one, as clients want minimal effort when making their meals, the same goes for their favorite beverages. This trend encapsulates, various machines, but always offers an easy way of creating a beverage. Coffee makers present the user with a hassle-free method of doing their coffee.
Packaging is an extremely important part of the industry, a common technique used by companies in the sector is to repackage an existing product so as to reduce the amount of food in their product and make it seem like their product includes a novelty.
By selling this same product as before, only reduced in size, companies, therefore, make more money by selling less of their product at the same price. The customers don’t realize it because to them only the packaging has changed.
While this is not a technology per se, the engineering that goes behind the packaging is vast. Packages have to contain a certain amount of the beverage or meal while being resistant and costing as little as possible.
The domain has shifted in recent years towards recyclable packages and ones that are more eco-friendly to fit the customer’s wants.
The food & beverages industry is a competitive space, technology provides a way for companies to get ahead by providing the customer with better products that respect their health, and the environment. Businesses can leverage data, and automation to provide effortless meals or beverages.
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