It is forecasted that the global food and beverage market across the globe is worth a cool $6,111 billion. That’s some mind-blowing figure, isn’t it? But the humongous outbreak of the coronavirus has shaken the solid foundation this industry built over centuries.
Virtually all industry verticals are bearing the brunt on account of the pandemic, as companies are laboring to keep their businesses afloat in what is being deemed as the ‘worse economic situation than the 2008 recession.”
But the food and beverage industry seems to have taken the worst hit of all. In the coming days, the industry needs to prepare itself for the long-term impacts of unprecedented pandemics like COVID-19.
While some challenges plaguing the food and beverage industry have been relatively commonplace for some time now, the pandemic has given rise to many other problems – owing to ever-conscious consumers and a stringent regulatory scene.
In this blog, we will discuss the top 4 challenges in the food and beverage industry.
Compliance To Strict Regulations
While this may seem like a no-brainer to state this, the F&B scene is very strictly monitored by regulations. Organizations like FDA, FTC, and EPA have always been on their toes to enforce norms pertaining to product launch, monitoring labels and ingredients, and regulating hygienic environments for production.
And given the hygiene concerns raised by the pandemic, it has become more critical than ever to uphold the health and safety standards. It is super essential to recently maintain the high level of trust consumers place in food and beverage manufacturers.
One such important regulation to keep in mind is the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) that was first introduced in 1938. It is still one of the most critical compliances we have in place.
The initial step in maintaining this compliance is knowing where your company stands regarding the legislation and ensuring that every one of your employees is aware of the operational needs under the law.
And following the pandemic, manufacturers should now also be ready to host physical inspections at any time.
Maintain Food Integrity
Consumer decisions are fickle, and fads often dominate their purchasing decisions. However, due to the increasing incidents of food-related disorders, consumers have been seriously prompted to bring about some crucial changes in their diet and lifestyle, in turn making them more health-conscious than they’ve ever been.
Thus, quality control should be at the heart of every level in the food and beverage supply chain. You should always ensure that the temperature and humidity control mechanisms are in place and ticking. Also, it’s equally important to identify and tackle harbor points for bacteria, fungi, and other pathogens that constantly pose a threat to the product integrity and equipment.
Likewise, outside the facility, food processing facilities face several other contamination challenges along the exterior, drive approach, and loading dock. These areas are susceptible to contamination from agents like:
- Bacteria and food-borne viruses
- Insects like roaches, beetles, moths, and flies
The role of the right equipment at the right place is vital to reduce the chances of contamination. Especially, interiors like freezers, cooler doors, loading docks can greatly benefit from the use of strip doors and other curtain strips, and so on.
Prioritize Transparency And Traceability
While it’s crucial to label products with easy-to-understand yet comprehensive information, there’s only so much a product label can fit. Thus, to maintain transparency of one’s products, food and beverage manufacturers must use other means to reach their customers. For instance, mobile-friendly websites, QR codes, and smart labels have been quite widespread.
Another critical challenge facing the food and beverage industry is traceability.
Today, the purpose of traceability is more than just to record revenue for all sectors and record management.
As of late, consumer interest in traceability has skyrocketed. They’re very much interested in what goes into their food, who is producing them, and so on. And this has given rise to ‘ingredient labelling’ – comprising the central part of the packaging process.
In fact, having recognized the significance of maintaining precise data records, food and beverage companies are now working hard to deploy every sort of advanced technology like the Internet of Things, Artificial Intelligence, Blockchain, for functions like monitoring the supply chain analysis, temperature, weight measurement and so on.
Keep Sustainability At Heart
With the vaccine rollout being so successful, it looks like the COVID-19 crisis is finally coming to an end after almost a year and a half of havoc. However, we should remember that the climate crisis was here before, is here, and will be there for generations to come if we don’t address it on time.
While sustainability issues within the food and beverage industry had taken a back seat in the past few decades, lately, they’re being brought to the forefront by conscious consumers and environmental organizations.
For example, the progress made on eliminating single-use plastics has elevated significantly in the past few years.
And studies have continuously shown that companies that practice sustainability in their approaches are better favored by today’s consumers. They even go as far as paying more for a product that has sustainability at its heart.
Thus, it’s super important that companies adopt sustainable and environment-friendly tactics like embracing eco-friendly packaging, repurposing food waste, and partnering with homeless shelters or charitable organizations to donate surplus food and drink.
But above all, it’s even more critical to source and use eco-friendly ingredients. It goes a long way.