The food industry is one of the most important and largest industries we know. To keep meeting customer demands and expectations, digitalisation is essential. In addition, the right digital solutions can also contribute to impeccable quality, better traceability and sustainable production.
Within Xplore Group, we focus broadly on digital trends within the food industry. In this blog, we discuss what we believe are the 4 biggest digital trends within the industry and how they can be used by your company.
Placing an order 24/7
Traditionally, B2B orders are often placed by e-mail, phone or fax. This is labour-intensive, time-consuming and prone to human error. Moreover, B2B customers expect the same user-friendly experience that B2C customers receive. Therefore, more food companies are switching to a B2B self-service portal integrated with their existing systems. This way, they can offer their customers an online tool that is available 24/7 and on any device. The tool also allows them to:
- View a personally relevant product range
- Place online orders
- Manage and track current orders
- View order history
- Manage invoices
A second challenge within the food industry is managing the huge amount of product data. Information such as origin, description, allergens, ingredients, nutritional values, shelf life, preparation method, packaging, etc. All the information that is mandatory for food labels. Customers want access to this through various channels, but to ensure that this information is consistent and up-to-date everywhere, it is important to manage this data centrally. This can be done via a PIM or MDM system. Furthermore, such a system also simplifies the process of sharing product data with the GS1 data pool, one of the largest product information databases within the food sector.
Read more on why a company could use a PIM system here.
Need help with capturing your product data? We are happy to help.
At the same time, we have noticed that employees in food companies often have no overview of the company data, because it is located in different places. To get data reports, they have to go to IT and wait for their ticket to be dealt with. Solution: a reporting layer or data warehouse: a kind of self-service data platform in which employees can retrieve the information they need themselves.
Route optimisation and automatic quality control
Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) is constantly evolving. Below is an overview of some interesting new AI & ML developments and applications in the food industry.
- In production, for example, we can monitor harvests based on sensors and images. We gain insight into soil quality and can adjust cultivation instructions based on this.
- At auctions, quality control is done based on images. In addition, an automatic price indication can be given, based on various predictions such as demand/supply or the weather for example. This can also be used in food retail to determine how much stock of each product should be purchased. A second retail application is automatic food pairing.
- Furthermore, AI & ML can also be used for transportation. For example, for route optimisation (delivering as ecologically or as quickly as possible) and to determine whether transport can be shared.
In addition, there are often repetitive manual processes within food companies. These can be automated with a virtual robot (RPA: Robotic Process Automation) without impacting the company’s current systems/applications. This frees up time for employees to focus on valuable tasks.
Finally, we find that CMS (Content Management Systems) are increasingly used in the food industry. International players in particular benefit from being able to manage information and images centrally and globally, but change them locally.