In its recently released study of technology trends in the food and beverage industry, NexTec reveals what tools are being used, what technology improvements are needed, and the influence of regulations, social media and dietary demands.
In this NexTec 2019 Food & Beverage Manufacturing Industry Study overview, we take a closer look at what industry leaders are saying about their technical uses and needs.
Finding 1: Advanced technologies in widespread use
Manufacturers have moved beyond simple solutions, though those basic tools are still in use. As they are selecting and installing more advanced business software solutions, nearly 4 in 10 are relying on outside expertise such as a consulting firm or co-manufacturing partner.
Here are the most prevalent advanced technologies in use to manage their business:
- Warehouse Management System (WMS) (77 percent)
- Enterprise Resource Planning software (ERP) (77 percent)
- Material Requirements Planning software (MRP) (73 percent)
Despite more businesses using advanced tools, there are still a large number of companies using spreadsheets (77 percent), QuickBooks (47 percent) or other operational, financial and accounting software (44 percent).
Finding 2: Food safety, compliance, quality management still lacking
Respondents identified several areas where they believe additional functionality and improvement are needed. The area with the largest percentage of respondents indicating “significant improvements” was food safety, compliance and quality management, with 25 percent (up 25 percent from the 2018 survey). Overall, the areas where moderate or significant improvements are most needed are:
- Food safety, compliance and quality management (60 percent)
- Tracking, traceability and recall planning (60 percent)
- Supplier and purchasing management (54 percent)
- Inventory and warehouse management (54 percent)
Finding 3: Changes (actual and planned) having an impact
Companies that have deployed new technology or are planning to believe that the changes will have a positive effect on the following areas:
- Compliance (87 percent)
- Quality assurance (80 percent)
- Sustainability and the environment (80 percent)
- Internet of Things (79 percent)
- Big data and business intelligence (76 percent)
- Traceability (74 percent)
- Cloud computing and software as a service (74 percent)
- Artificial intelligence (71 percent)
- Online selling and shopping (66 percent)
- Recyclable packaging (64 percent)
Reduction of plastic is a top priority, with 54 percent having reduced usage of plastic packaging or planning to do so.
Finding 4: Dietary trends reshaping business needs
Several dietary trends have had a positive impact on respondents’ companies, likely due to the use of new technology that can act on changing demands quickly. The trends having the greatest positive impacts are:
- Fresh foods (74 percent)
- Non-GMO products (74 percent)
- Snacking and eating on the go (71 percent)
- Artisanal, craft and locally sources products (65 percent)
- Clean label products – fewer processed ingredients (64 percent)
- Allergens (64 percent)
- Vegetarian, vegan and organic products (63 percent)
- Sugar reduction (61 percent)
- Gluten-free products (61 percent)
- Ethnic foods (53 percent)
Of note is that allergens was the only trends where companies reported a significant negative impact on operations (12 percent).
In general, the most common changes companies are implementing are employee education (72 percent) and installing new or upgraded food ERP (66 percent), MRP (54 percent) or WMS (48 percent) software.
Technology is playing an ever-increasing role in how food and beverage companies do business. At NexTec, we help companies identify, implement and optimize business software solutions. To learn how NexTec can assist with your technology needs, read our recent study on the food industry.
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