Bent, not broken: The food and beverage industry during COVID-19 has been stressed beyond belief, but there are ways to come out stronger.
From surging demand to fractured supply chains, last year tested the food industry like never before. All the upheaval put digital transformation in the food industry into hyperdrive.
Faced with challenges on all fronts, food companies stepped up their digital transformation efforts. They focused on optimizing their processes for maximum efficiency and building resiliency into their supply chains.
The goal wasn’t only to survive the pandemic challenge, but to come out stronger and ready for whatever challenge may come next.
Top trends in food industry digital transformation
Digital transformation in the food industry takes a lot of forms, but there are some common trends:
- Cloud – Food companies accelerated their migration to the cloud in order to be more nimble and responsive to rapidly changing market conditions.
- AI – Artificial intelligence technologies and real-time analytics play key roles in helping food companies respond rapidly to trends in order to fuel growth and avoid food waste.
- Omnichannel – The ability to serve customers directly through online channels became more critical than ever for every industry during the pandemic, and food companies were no exception. Many saw an extreme shift away from restaurants and institutions to retail markets.
- Sustainability – A growing number of consumers want to know more about the food they buy, putting pressure on food companies to provide supply chain visibility using advanced technologies like IoT.
Food sustainability is critical to protect the environment and reduce world hunger. Restaurants, brands, and consumers all have roles in this growing movement.
Digital transformation in food industry: International bakery digitizes sales
Even if you’ve never heard of ARYZTA, millions of consumers enjoy their products – many on a daily basis. Virtually every McDonald’s hamburger, cheeseburger, or chicken sandwich is served up on an ARYZTA bun. In fact, the company actually predates McDonald’s by nearly 50 years, having been founded in Ireland in 1897. Since then the company, now headquartered in Switzerland, has grown into a leadership role in the B2B bakery marketplace.
Although, as with all businesses, the pandemic created significant challenges to ARYZTA, it also intensified the need to continue pushing forward with digital transformation initiatives.
Migrating to a true cloud solution had already been part of the plan, but the disruption sown by the pandemic made it clear that the effort should be accelerated. “With all the requirements coming in, we were feeling quite uncomfortable with the level of responsiveness we could [currently] provide,” ARYZTA’s Digital Lead, Riccardo Zisa, says.
When considering cloud vs. on-premises, the choice for businesses today is obvious. Cloud saves money, time, and paves the way for innovation.
Digitizing sales became imperative for ARYZTA. Implementing a cloud sales solution enabled it to more effectively serve customers and keep up more effectively with business requirements. Salespeople now have a holistic view of the customer that allows them be more efficient and focus on important leads and opportunities.
Another focus area for ARYZTA is it’s B2B e-commerce site, which initially serves five countries, but is expected to expand significantly in the next few years. A number of customers now rely on the site for placing large daily orders, which means it’s crucial that the solution seamlessly integrates with their retail customers’ solutions.
As Zisa explains, “We want to simplify and enhance their [e-commerce] journey on multiple devices.” You can watch the full interview below.
Key benefits of the cloud solution include:
- Future proofing – the ability to continue evolving the solution to meet business needs as they arise
- Upgrade friendly – eliminates much of the overhead and anxiety typically associated with platform upgrades
- Easy deployments, thanks to the automated build process
- Self-service functionality tailored to fit ongoing commerce needs
Global producer boosts visibility through digitization
Based in Germany, Döhler is a global producer, marketer and provider of technology-driven natural ingredients and integrated solutions for the food and beverage industry.
The company’s digital transformation goals were two-fold: drive efficiency and build competitive edge. With a customer-first focus, Döhler worked to streamline and centralize its logistics operations and provide the visibility its customers expect.
The efforts paid off. During COVID-related shutdowns, the company had visibility into affected suppliers and ports, which enabled them to quickly re-route shipments. The benefits of its digital transformation include:
- Increased transparency across its operations
- Cost savings
- Improved productivity
- Higher customer satisfaction