An increasing number of food and beverage companies are using artificial intelligence (AI) to stay productive and profitable. It is impacting many aspects of the industry, such as production, distribution, marketing, consumption, packaging and storage.

That increase in AI usage is such that global AI market in food and beverage is estimated to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 42.18 percent through 2021.

How AI is being utilized

Some common areas of use for AI in the industry include:

  • Speeding up manual tasks.
  • Improving worker-overtime ratio.
  • Streamlining processes and compliance issues.
  • Detecting and eliminating inefficiencies.
  • Reducing equipment repair costs.
  • Improving employee efficiency and human resource management.
  • Achieving significant reductions in line downtime.
  • Reducing consumer friction at the point-of-sale.
  • Revolutionizing the whole in-store shopping experience.

Other practical applications include managing inventory. This means AI is used to track products when they are out of stock, reduce restocking times, identify lost items and assess the accuracy of pricing and labeling.

Walmart recently started using shelf-scanning robots to assist in these tasks. The robots work in tandem with employees who are responsible for stocking shelves and fixing errors.

On a larger scale, AI is changing logistics management. By raising quality, food and beverage companies are banking on increases in consumer satisfaction and sales.

One reason for AI’s popularity is due to the way it can scale a system without the need for restructuring the entire process.

Additionally, machines in the food and beverage industry need modernization. They were designed decades ago and are meant to run a certain way.

Older factories lack sensors and tracking equipment that miss out on abnormalities in the system. The use of data analytics via artificial intelligence can help improve and streamline production and create sustainable processes.

Of course, like any other technology, AI has growth pains attached to it as well. Even for very proactive and tech-savvy companies, the process will come with teething problems.

Challenges of adopting AI

  • Cost is a considerable factor, especially for those looking for customized systems.
  • Integration with existing systems can be painful and time-consuming.
  • Gauging the efficacy of the systems can be hard, as is understanding how the algorithms work

With the right AI solution, these challenges could be overcome. AI-powered inventory or logistics software can maximize supply chain efficiency. Constant upgrades will provide business insights to improve the systems further.