The Food and Beverage Industry is Hungry for Innovation

August 30, 2016

There are several emerging technologies at the forefront of the Food and Beverage industry. In an increasingly consumer-centric environment, companies are shifting their attention and investments towards product innovation, shopper behavior, and data analytics to gain a competitive advantage.

Companies in the Food and Beverage industry are faced with an increasingly health conscious, consumer-centric environment. New customer demands are forcing companies to adapt and pursue new technologies in order to create innovative products, develop more interactive and engaging marketing campaigns, and improve their capacity to garner valuable insights from the data they collect. Companies in the food and beverage industry are also learning to leverage new mobile and online technologies to drive sales, provide better service to customers, and efficiently analyze big data to enhance their understanding of customers.

Product innovation and Improved Manufacturing Processes

As healthy alternatives become mainstream, innovators are looking for new ways to improve food products. The focus for technological innovations is now on creating new and high-quality products, while improving the efficiency, productivity, and sustainability of production. A significant area of product development is focused around reducing the salt and fat content of food products. As consumers become increasingly health conscious, companies in the food and beverage industry, that can provide low-sodium or low-fat alternative will likely see a competitive advantage. One major innovation in this area has been the use of manufactured nanoparticles acting as alternatives, enabling companies to lower the fat and sodium content of food products, while simultaneously improving functionality and delivery.

Companies in the food and beverage industry are also focusing on driving innovation through rapid product development and commercialization, encouraging a faster overall innovation cycle. In order to achieve more rapid innovation cycles, companies are initiating collaborative partnerships with entrepreneurs in the hopes of developing products that can serve as differentiating factors for consumers.

In addition to product innovations, food and beverage companies are seeking innovation in their manufacturing processes. Companies are still pursuing “green” initiatives. However, many existing manufacturing platforms are not equipped to meet these emerging “green” agendas. As a result, technical innovations are likely to emerge in order to enable food and beverage producers to effectively and efficiently meet their targets.

Innovations in sensor tags are also helping companies improve efficiency and productivity. As sensor tags become increasingly sophisticated, they can verify best-before dates on products, detect breaches in taper-resistant seals, verify product quality, and improve bottling and packaging factory efficiency. These more sophisticated sensor tags, can increase productivity by reducing errors and improve sustainability by reducing the amount of packaging required.

Understanding Shopper Behavior and Improving Customer Loyalty

In addition to product innovation, companies in the Food and Beverage industry are also begging to leverage technologies to gain more insight into customer behavior and improve the efficacy of marketing. As consumers look to different sales channels to meet their needs, food and beverage companies must leverage mobile and online technologies in order to meet this demand and collect potentially valuable customer information. Mobile and online shopping is emerging as a significant source of revenue for food and beverage stores. In the U.S, E-commerce for food and beverage stores in 2012 totaled US$900 million, up more than US$200 million from 2010 . Mobile and online technologies also allow food and beverage companies to collect more targeted information on customers, which can be used to improve marketing campaigns.

E-commerce in the U.S: Food and Beverage Stores

In addition to a rise in e-commerce, companies are now integrating augmented reality (AR) technologies into their packaging, in order to diversify their marketing approaches. AR tags allow consumers to interact with a products packing through smartphones or tablets, unlocking games, puzzles, and other such activities. Not surprisingly, this type of marketing is most popular with consumers aged 12–18, and can help build brand loyalty from a young age.

Improving Data Analytics for Enhanced Insight

Another area of the Food and Beverage industry that will likely see technological innovation is data analytics. In a customer-centric environment, companies are looking to improved big data analytics capabilities to anticipate customer demands and adjust product offerings accordingly. Data analytics can be a significant driver of growth in the industry, and at this point, many food and beverage companies are not equipped to effectively and efficiently glean valuable results from the data they collect. This lack of capacity is a strong indicator of innovations to come, especially as food and beverage companies seek deeper customer insight, more effective brand and product management, and more competitive pricing strategies.

Future Innovations in the Food and Beverage Industry

In the Food and Beverage industry, new technologies are likely to emerge in order to develop more innovative products, predict customer demands, and improve customer loyalty. Innovations like nanoparticles, augmented reality tags, and big data analytics software will all enable food and beverage companies to differentiate themselves form their competitors. Companies can also leverage mobile and online technologies in order to drive sales and reach a broader range of customers. Moving forward, technological innovation and emerging technologies will likely materialize in these areas.

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