Technology is driving the food and beverage industry forward
Thursday, July 10, 2014
According to Plunkett Research, the global food and agricultural industry will reach $7.6 trillion by the end of this year. In the U.S., sales from retail grocery stores and supermarket reached over $650 billion in 2013 — up 2.5 percent from 2012 — and sales from nontraditional food-sellers reached a figure of $435 billion in 2013.
Putting these together, we get the total picture of more than $1 trillion in food and beverage sales in the U.S. That doesn't even include major players like the restaurant and bar industry, which accounted for another $552 billion in revenues for the year — up 4.2 percent from 2012. And don't forget convenience stores, which totaled another $176 billion in F&B sales.
With increasing revenues and purchases comes increasing demand. Combine that with specialized services, changing demographics and a volatile economy in the U.S. and across the world, and technology is the only way to ensure complete parity in service. Food industry leaders have been quick to see which way the winds are blowing and have been active in welcoming technological innovations.
Hack//Dining NYC is one of the latest events to showcase how technology will be a driving factor in the F&B industry in the future. The hackathon was focused on bringing digital innovations closer to the F&B industry, to help both retail and restaurants focus on not only better service but also on better value.
What we have as a result of this groundbreaking event are some of the coolest food apps to savor. The key idea behind every hackathon model here was to facilitate a service algorithm to work with the customer's viewpoint in mind. This would streamline deliverables, improve the supply chain tactics and scale up businesses easily with the help of advanced digital strategies.
Challenges were set forth by major industry players like Applegate, Chipotle and Google, which had put forth a Corporate Wellness Challenge. The expectation for Google was an app that would connect corporate food service providers with better food and behavior choices of Google employees to deliver high-quality, nutritious food. This would in turn lead to better productivity for the company and a more wholesome life for each individual.
Professionals and techies converged to find ways to bring in better efficiency and sustainability in the industry. In this regard, using technology to find better food safety rules and maintaining food safety compliance was a key focus as well.
A notable mention here is an app developed by participant Trey Shelton that would create an instant feedback of a user's food choices running in a constant loop. Users will know immediately how their dining choices will affect their overall health and in turn encourage them to think about food in a positive manner, beyond just taste.
And the food industry is already seeing success from the use of technology.
A recent study conducted by accounting, tax and advisory services firm WeiserMazars has shown that "the American food and beverage industry is feeling bullish for 2014 after a strong 2013." Notable results from the survey included healthy growth in sales and profit through 2012 to 2013 — 13 percent rise in sales and employment, and 17 percent rise in average net profit.
Improved sales performance is directly linked to the smart use of existing and emerging technology. Additional help is now possible through the convergence of mobile technology and social media, which has brought consumers closer and has made it possible for markets to understand consumer behavior and needs better.
Every sector is bent on leveraging technology to gain better productivity. Technology has completely changed supply chain policies and supplier relationships, which have led to better inventory and cost control. Technology has also led to efficient automated guest services through touchscreens and handheld ordering devices.
The strategic focus of food and beverage companies is now to impact beyond marketing and drive innovation through every aspect of business in order to gain competitive advantage and a healthy market share.
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