Humans are adaptable creatures. Although most say they don’t like change, how many people are wearing the same clothes they wore five years ago? And who’s using the same technology?
Consumer behaviors are always changing and adapting to match the evolving world around us. And although these changes usually occur slowly over time, the global pandemic pushed consumers to quickly change their buying habits.
These changes created a ripple effect that touched every aspect of the buying cycle and food distribution. It disrupted the food and beverage supply chain and will continue to make an impact.
Here are five trends in the food and beverage industry that were already in-the-works before 2020, but made an even greater impact within the last 24 months.
1. Consumers demand transparency
Consumers are becoming more informed about what they’re consuming. They want to know where food comes from, who made it and how long it took to land in the stores and on their plates. Consumers expect their food to be safe, healthy, and ethically sourced, which isn’t possible without increasingly sophisticated technology.
Transparency throughout the entire supply chain will continue to be critical for brands to earn and retain consumer trust. Blockchain and real-time digital solutions will continue to be popular.
2. Elevated food safety
In the aftermath of the pandemic, the demand for food safety and employee protection has increased. Companies are ready to expedite automation and robotics projects to help with the overall management of conservation and wellbeing in plants. Engineers are developing innovative technology that can look for defects in products or make sanitation efforts more effective. This food safety focus will continue to be essential for any food suppliers and those who identify food sources.
3. Plant-based food trend
2020 was a record-setting year for plant-based food production, which was already on the rise. This segment continually launches new products, and new plants and options are predicted to enter the market throughout 2021. This includes using fresh, popular plant-based ingredients and newly created food products that offer something special, like a unique base ingredient.
The impact drips into the supply chain. For example, plant-based meat, which is sourced with many different ingredients, can cause a massive recall if one small ingredient becomes tainted. There’s an increasing demand for more advanced technology for traceability and temperature regulation to ensure full accountability and understanding for every piece of the chain.
4. Sustainability concerns
Consumers are turning their focus to the quality of food and sustainability in their sourcing and packaging. They want to know more about a company’s waste prevention strategies and their carbon footprint. Therefore, technology must rise to meet these expectations and enable companies to integrate more sustainability initiatives into their processes. They must find ways to increase supply chain efficiency while keeping ingredients fresh.
Without a controlled strategy that provides monitoring for all components, the producers risk wasting supplies and could roll back those sustainability efforts by creating an increase in food waste.
5. Food delivered by drones
Self-driving vehicles and drones could become an essential piece of the future of sustainable food distribution. Depending on how they’re used and the conditions surrounding their use, drones could positively impact our economy and environment.
Food distribution is expected to be an early adopter of autonomous vehicles because of their ability to deliver perishable food quickly. This will help reduce waste and increase capacity for 24/7 service. These technologies could also have a significant effect on improved logistical efficiencies and potentially reduce driver wages.
Overall, the food and beverage industry will continue to evolve to meet consumer demands. These trends are here to stay, and companies must continue to invest in technology and innovation to keep pace and keep consumers satisfied.