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Sustainable Optimization, Transparency and Data: The Perfect 3-Course Menu for the Future of the Food Industry

The food industry is facing a variety of challenges all at the same time, ranging from legal requirements and the need to optimize product portfolios to necessary efficiency and cost improvements in production and logistics. Data-based initiatives such as the EU’s Digital Product Passport (DPP) support transparent food tracking along the entire supply chain, a major lever in ensuring product quality and sustainability.

Clearly defined ESG criteria are a must in any sustainability-oriented corporate strategy, due to legislative requirements as much as consumers’ increasingly critical view of the ingredients, production processes and environmental impact of food items. Growing product diversity and competitive pressure are turning up the heat further. As challenging as it is to implement and accommodate all these requirements, it is possible if a company collects, uses and analyzes precise data. This data is the key to striking a successful balance between legal compliance, optimized production and new sales channels in the food industry.

Strict adherence to a broad range of international regulations and standards is required of any company in the food industry that seeks to have comprehensive access to global markets and ensure maximum food safety and quality. A strong focus on the EU’s Food Information to Consumers Regulation (FIC) is driving initiatives for data quality and product information management (PIM). 

3 Trends Currently Changing Your Industry

Digitalization and Automation

Technologies such as AI and IoT are revolutionizing the food sector as they are many other industries. There are plenty of practical applications which allow companies to respond swiftly to market changes: for instance, sensor technology helps optimize production processes and blockchain improves product traceability. However, to apply these tools successfully requires high data quality, reliable IT infrastructures, data-driven action and an organizational transformation.

Customer-Centricity and Consumer Needs

These days, consumers demand high-quality ingredients and sustainably produced food as well as comprehensive and transparent product information. PIM systems allow companies to automate and streamline the maintenance of complex, multilingual product data sets in the context of country-specific legal food standards. They offer interfaces to stores, apps or publishing solutions, ensuring consistent communications throughout.

Sustainability Along the Value Chain

High commodity and energy prices are driving up costs in logistics and packaging. At present, emission recording is still voluntary in many places, but the writing is on the wall as it is increasingly becoming a legal requirement. The same is true of the reduction of packaging waste. Digital technologies and high-quality data along the supply chain can make resource utilization more efficient, ultimately cutting energy consumption and optimizing purchasing planning.

Data Leadership For Experts

Thank You, Managers. From Here On, It Gets Boring…

Or simply more specific (however you like to see it).
The experts among you will probably appreciate that we also provide insight here
that goes well beyond the necessary basic understanding. So, let’s go!

Technology Issues in the Industry

For Experts Only: Tech Trends in the Food Industry

Master Data Management and Data Governance

The most important step to ensure compliance with regulatory standards and maximum product integrity is to set up master data management (MDM) and centralize your IT landscape. These steps provide the data that allows you to track your products along all stages of the process, from product development to market launch. An MDM system is an efficient tool to record and manage all relevant information on batches, manufacturing data, raw materials and processing steps. 

A major challenge is the onboarding of supplier data. Data governance is essential for high data quality and strict compliance. It also supports the optimization of business processes and the provision of reliable in-house data. Data governance includes strategic control, compliance with regulations, risk management as well as data accuracy and security. 

AI and IoT to Boost Efficiency in Business Processes

Data-based use cases are playing an increasingly important role in optimizing production and logistics processes. The use of AI-based scanners and sensors is revolutionizing the way companies monitor and automate these processes. AI applications can increase the efficiency of workflows and calculate relevant probabilities, a way to significantly improve your planning. By integrating IoT and RFID tracking, companies can tap possibilities to seamlessly track goods, from production all the way to customer delivery. RFID tags enable individual tracking and support efficient inventory management as they provide full transparency about the location and destination of any product at any time. However, to leverage the full potential of these innovations, high-quality data is essential.

PIM Systems Offer Top-Notch Product Experience 

A tool to centrally manage and maintain product data, an efficient PIM system records a broad range of data: from product names, ingredient lists, nutritional and allergen information and special certifications to packaging sizes, prices, images, barcodes and SKU numbers as well as information on the origin of raw materials. Using such a system ensures that your product information stays consistent across all sales channels. Moreover, a central data ecosystem improves compliance and significantly increases efficiency as you create, update and share information. Even brick-and-mortar stores benefit from electronic shelf labels and digital scales that offer detailed, centrally managed product information. Integrated into the packaging via QR codes, detailed descriptions offer an edge in marketing, fostering customer satisfaction and brand loyalty.

Risk & Compliance Management

As digitalization increases and more and more legislation is passed, companies in the food industry are inevitably having to transform their products and processes. This involves the integration of digital product information as well as strict compliance with regulations including the EU’s Digital Product Passport, which focuses on traceability and sustainability of products and their manufacturing processes. In addition, compliance standards such as the Food Information to Consumers Regulation (FIC) as well as certifications and awards need to be considered. 

The international setup of the food industry poses additional challenges, as different countries handle ingredient and allergen information differently. High-quality data is essential to meet changing market requirements and ensure compliance in the global marketplace.

Upskilling & Reskilling for Data Literacy

The increasing use of data and analytics in the food industry has brought about a great demand for new skill sets for IT professionals at all stages of the process, including manufacturers, retailers, suppliers and service providers. All struggle to find skilled professionals who are trained to efficiently shape the digital transformation at their company. Success in this new era will largely rely on fostering a digital mindset among the current workforce and offering them specific ways to upskill and reskill. Training courses should focus not only on technical skills but also on change management and data literacy. Skills such as analyzing and interpreting large volumes of data are becoming increasingly important.

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