The past 12 months have presented unprecedented challenges across every industry, and the food and beverage sector has been no exception. Increased demand, restrictions on manufacturing and regulatory processes and constraints placed on routes to market have combined to present severe challenges across the whole supply chain.
Yet this is a sector in which change is the only constant. People will always need to eat and drink, but the what, where, when and how are factors that never stand still. At Turquoise, our food and drink industry market research helps businesses to stay ahead of the curve in positioning themselves to meet consumer demands and market expectations. Here, we look at some of the latest industry trends.
Safety standards in the spotlight
Food safety has always been a top priority in the sector, but it is more in the spotlight now than ever. Upholding safety standards and being seen to do so is vital to maintain consumer confidence, and right now, it goes beyond those measures that ensure the food on our plates is safe to eat.
It also extends to protecting those who make it – after all, the food manufacturing sector is one in which working from home is not an option for most. Maintaining safe working conditions at manufacturing facilities is going to remain one of the key themes throughout the rest of this year and into 2022.
Sustainability remains a priority
We might have had other distractions over the past year, but the climate crisis has not disappeared, and sustainability is a topic that will be right back at the top of the agenda as the world returns to some semblance of normality.
An intriguing consequence of the pandemic is that it has actually reversed the good work achieved over recent years as far as some sustainability initiatives are concerned. For example, adoption of reusable cups was just starting to hit critical mass when events meant that coffee shops went from encouraging them to banning them overnight. Finding new ways to tackle old problems is going to be increasingly important in the months ahead.
Food fraud on the rise
A somewhat surprising consequence of the pandemic has been an increase in criminal activity in the food industry. The logistical challenges of meeting demand in 2020 meant businesses prioritised getting shelves stocked above all else, and this opened the door to sharp operators, particularly in certain international markets. The spice market is a case in point, and products like sage are vulnerable.
The UK food industry has robust and mature supply chains in place, and it is vital that these are not compromised by the joint pressures presented by the pandemic and Brexit.
Digital transformation continues unabated
Here’s an area that has been influencing every sector for the past decade or more. However, digital transformation has accelerated dramatically over the past year, and it is more important than ever for businesses in the sector to move quickly and be open to technological innovation.
This covers everything from virtual QA in factories to mobile ordering apps for kerbside pickups. Looking ahead, there is plenty more change in the air, from blockchain-based smart contracts in the supply chain to augmented reality for interactive restaurant menus.