When the first handheld devices for taking orders appeared in the hands of waiters and waitresses, people were fascinated. Now, they are considered mainstream. Technology has improved vastly the food and beverage industry for all professionals involved.
Errand Pro is part of this technological stream, improving the lives of Food and Beverage entrepreneurs by bringing together F&B professionals and growers. This article examines how technology disrupts the F&B industry to shape its future.
Customization based on online data
Through B2C and B2B, F&B businesses are gathering vast amounts of data regarding their customers’ preferences and choices. This data can be crucial because businesses can customize their offers to their consumers according to what each consumer actually wants and needs.
In physical shops, the shelves are refilled based on what most customers buy. With customized offers, customers will get suggestions and offers which they really like and not generic ones that may not interest them. This is valid not only for B2C but for B2B also: entrepreneurs should keep in mind that trends in B2C always spill into B2B.
Big data and its AI analysis and machine learning are making customization possible and affordable. They are also making it highly profitable. With the change in manufacturing production, customization is achievable from production to sale.
Internet of Things (IoT) integration
You have probably seen packaging with sensors: for instance, on water bottles, reminding the consumer to drink water. It is a relatively novel experiment and IoT packaging is still quite expensive to produce.
However, IoT integration is already around in the F&B industry. Think of inventory control where sensors can alert about low stocks or problems in inventory conditions. And IoT integration is visible in packaging, especially when it comes to track-and-trace packages and deliveries.
As increasingly more devices are connected, more of them will also be inter-connected. This will allow for the immediate and automatic update between devices and business areas throughout the F&B industry.
For example, if a particular stock is running low, the sensors will send an alert which will lead to an order being placed to the supplier. This will lead to a delivery, which will, in turn, inform the stock sensor that the missing stock has been replenished.
Blockchain technology for transparency
Evermore businesses are required to have a transparent system of production and transport. Blockchain technology facilitates transparency.
While most people associate blockchain technology with bitcoin, blockchain is actually nothing more than a secure method of storing data, which cannot be changed nor altered.
More importantly, this technology shares the data throughout whole processes. The name comes from ‘blocks’ referring to digital data and ‘chain’ referring to a public database. Any information is stored in the blocks and is widely available—but cannot be changed.
Because each block of information is linked to the previous and the next and carries with it information from the previous, it’s impossible for hackers to change one block of information. For example, if a hacker attempts to change information on block 465, they will then need to change information on block 466 when it is created, and the block 467 when it is created and so one and for every new block which carries in it information from block 465. This is an impossible task at present, making blockchain the most secure data transfer technology we have today.
Why is blockchain applicable in F&B? Because it builds trust in the production, transportation, and distribution of food.
Blockchain makes tracing and tracking a particular batch of food easy and fast. Imagine the effectiveness of blockchain in labeling products such as ‘organic’ or ‘meat-free’. Once the label has been applied, it will be impossible to change and it will be carried throughout the food’s journey to our table.
Needless to say that blockchain will also facilitate the distribution process as well. Do you think that’s still years away? Walmart is already asking certain suppliers of fresh produce to apply blockchain tracking to their produce.
Robots in stocking
No, robots are not yet serving food in restaurants and cafés. However, their presence is already being felt backstage in inventory management.
Robots are being used in the preparation of food in cutting, packaging, and stacking up cases.
Robots are also entering the production line with specific tasks delegated to them. In manufacturing premises, mobile robots are used to lift crates and heavy loads with extreme precision and unmatched strength.
Do you wonder what food fashion will be trending next year? Artificial intelligence and machine learning may help you determine it. Through the analysis of endless consumer data, machine learning can make analyses and predictions about the food and beverage industry.
AI and machine learning can sift through tons of data in seconds to find common patterns showing a trend. They can identify problems or issues that may arise in the future. What if you could have a forecast about the expected prices of particular foodstuffs or whether there will be a shortage of an ingredient in the near future?
Or what if you had an application that could tell you how many clients to expect in your restaurant each season? It would make your life so much easier if you could order the appropriate quantities from your suppliers and have the relevant number of personnel at each time. This could save your business money and time and give your opportunities to focus your attention on the most profitable aspects of your business.
Machine learning and AI are also helpful in determining the quality of food, a particularly helpful quality when trying to sort vegetables or foods.
Finally, machine learning and AI can predict machine failure and can remotely monitor machines and equipment, making sure they work effectively and productively.
Artificial intelligence, machine learning, and the Internet of Things have already touched upon all sectors of the economy. They are quietly revolutionizing the life of food manufacturers and the whole F&B industry.
With the addition of robots, these technological advances have made the process of producing, packing, delivering, and preparing food, smoother and straightforward.
Finally, the adaptation of blockchain technology to the industry is making sure there is traceability throughout the production and delivery process.