The food industry is always evolving. As companies search to produce better food in greater quantities at a more affordable price, their means of doing so are constantly changing. In 2021, some of the important goals for the industry include using more technology, finding new distribution channels, and being more environmentally-conscious.
Every food company will go about achieving these goals in a slightly different way. Each organization will decide how to meet these challenges in ways that make sense for them. That said, there are some common best practices that companies in this industry can use to help them along the way.
These best practices should be universal in the food industry as we enter the third decade of the 21st century. The smartest, most successful companies in the industry will be able to internalize these practices and use them to produce their finest products in the most efficient way possible. Here are seven food industry best practices for 2021.
1. Commit to making data-driven decisions
Like many industries, the food industry produces a ton of data in its processes. The smartest companies in the industry will commit to collecting and analyzing this data in 2021 in order to make the best data-driven decisions possible. Luckily, there are now many technological tools that can help with this commitment.
Data collection tech like data loggers (see below) and analytics tools such as cloud-based computing software and even artificial intelligence (AI) can help organizations improve their processes and procedures in a real, measurable way. Making decisions based on data also leads to quicker decisions and more transparency and accountability.
2. Put your best foot forward when it comes to monitoring
Data loggers are widely used in the food industry to monitor conditions for sensitive products. According to Dickson, food manufacturers and distributors rely on data loggers for a variety of monitoring functions. These sensors can record a range of environmental conditions from temperature to humidity to pressure.
Many data loggers these days are also part of the Internet of Things (IoT), meaning that they are internet-connected and can transmit their data to a remote cloud-based monitoring system. Food companies that use this technology will have much better control of their products as they move through the cold supply chain, meaning their foodstuffs will be fresher, longer-lasting, and safer.
3. Match distribution with the target consumer
In 2021, food producers have many more options for distribution than just the traditional restaurants or supermarkets. There are now options such as meal kits like Blue Apron, grocery or restaurant delivery services like Instacart or DoorDash, and Ecommerce retail platforms like Amazon Pantry.
Food producers are now much better able to get their products into the hands (and mouths) of their target consumer. This puts more onus on the producer to do the market research needed to better identify this core customer. But it can pay off in a big way if companies can properly match who is consuming the food with the ways they want to procure it.
4. Always make food safety the top priority
This is a best practice that hasn’t changed in decades, but it is worth reiterating that, in 2021, food safety should be the top priority as always. This dovetails with some of the best practices above like monitoring the cold chain and using technology for data-driven decision-making. It also requires setting a standard and making an organization-wide commitment to quality and safe food handling practices.
The result of not doing this can be catastrophic for a food company, especially in today’s information and social media age. Having a food recall or, worse, sickening consumers potentially means lawsuits, fines, and some serious PR damage. There is no excuse in 2021 for a company not doing everything it can to use food safety best practices.
5. It’s good to be green
Going green is a priority these days in every industry, but the food industry feels the benefit of this as much or more than most. A healthier earth will make for better and easier food production–which is why it is so important the industry does all it can in 2021 and beyond to go more green.
Earth-friendly best practices for the food industry include sourcing raw materials from sustainable sources and switching to more eco-friendly packaging. The industry can also refine its processes to use less energy and water or update its distribution fleet to be more energy efficient. This all takes upfront investment but it will be better for the company and the industry in the long-run.
6. Improve profitability with technology
Another way food producers can benefit from technology is by upgrading the way they look at costs and revenue. One of the best ways to do this is with food industry-specific enterprise resource planning (ERP) software. This software will allow producers to get a real-time picture of their processes and how these processes affect their financial health.
ERPs can show food producers what products are most profitable and they can optimize production to increase revenue. This type of software is the definition of a product that allows companies to work smarter, not harder.
7. Reduce waste wherever possible
Food waste is often talked about in the final stages of the products’ life cycle. This includes at restaurants, in supermarkets, and after the food reaches the consumer. Putting practices in place to reduce waste on the production and distribution end is important as well. It will not only be helpful to the world but helpful to a company’s bottom line as well.
Reducing food waste for food producers relates to other best practices on this list. Optimizing the supply chain and working with sustainable suppliers can help reduce waste. There are also biotechnology solutions that can help extend product shelf life, fight mold, and help keep food fresher for longer periods of time.
The food industry has a great opportunity this year to put best practices in place to become better at what they do and benefit both the consumer and the company in the process. Most of these best practices involve using the technology available to streamline processes in production and distribution to make the entire endeavor more efficient. In 2021, the companies that do this will find success moving forward while the ones that don’t may fall behind.
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