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5 Vital Considerations for Keeping Up with the Disruptors in the Food and Beverage Industry


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5 Vital Considerations for Keeping Up with the Disruptors in the Food and Beverage Industry

29 Dec 2021

John McCurdy
People walking into the distance, blurred to evoke speed.

While the term “disruption” can provoke anxiety and trepidation on the part of food and beverage professionals, especially in the wake of a global pandemic and other food industry disruptions, another similar term has an altogether different connotation. In fact, a business being labeled a “disruptor” is quite the compliment, as it recognizes the organization’s pioneering approach and high potential for impact on the industry.

The rapid upward trajectory of several brands recognized as disruptors relatively early on in their existence—Halo Top, JUST, Chobani and Beyond Meat, to name a few—is proof that these companies are helping to create the future of the food and beverage world. The next group of up-and-comers is already here, and they’re likely to push the envelope to an even greater extent than those that came before.

So, what can you do to keep up with these new players and the rate of change in the marketplace? Having an industry-specific and fully digital platform like an enterprise resource planning (ERP) solution is part of the equation, but more important is leveraging your ERP system to ensure that your efforts on several key fronts keep your business relevant in the discussion with the movers and shakers of today and tomorrow.

Here, we’ll dive into the five key considerations for organizations that want to stay competitive with the most disruptive companies in the food and beverage industry.

Consideration #1: Shifting Consumer Preferences

The last few years have given rise to a number of new food and beverage movements, as well as additional dietary concerns. Functional foods, plant-based products and alternative formulations for those with restrictions are all surging in popularity, and many disruptors like Purecane are making their names in these categories.

To further illustrate how important this topic is, consider that changes in consumer demands and preferences was named the top trend to impact the food and beverage industry over the next five years in IDC’s Global Food and Beverage Industry Trends and Strategic Insights whitepaper commissioned by Aptean this year. Obviously, today’s leaders realize that they must tailor their offerings accordingly as their audiences’ tastes evolve, and keeping an ear to the ground for signs of the next craze can help you get ahead of the curve.

That being said, if your brand is not already producing items that are aligned with these developments, breaking into the space can seem difficult. Luckily, the tools that will get you up to speed exist—and they’re part of any food ERP solution worth implementing. We’re talking about comprehensive recipe and formulation features.

With the right platform, your research and development teams will be free to tinker with ideas, try out new products and successfully launch items that appeal to those looking for specific benefits and ingredients in what they eat and drink. This is a key part of staying agile, seizing opportunities when they arise and boosting your brand’s profile in the competition for consumer loyalty.

Consideration #2: Transparency

Many of the most disruptive new food and beverage businesses are differentiating themselves from the pack with their traceability efforts and clear communication with customers, and with good reason. An Innova Market Insights consumer survey found that 85% of respondents say what goes into their food is of major importance to them, underscoring the need for transparency to convince shoppers of your products’ quality.

Traceability is also closely linked with food safety and regulatory compliance, and the FDA’s Proposed Rule for Food Traceability and its additional requirements for the collection and storage of critical information all along the supply chain demonstrates its importance. The industry at large certainly recognizes this fact, as food safety and traceability was voted as the top area of focus for risk mitigation in IDC’s survey.

The best way to ensure your organization is covered in this regard is to put in place a solution that can act as a single, unified platform for all of your data while also automating the capture of those facts and figures while updating in real time. It may seem like quite the ask for a system, but it’s nothing less than what best-in-class options like Aptean Food & Beverage ERP offer.

When innovative new brands are claiming larger shares of the market and crowding store shelves, your company needs to demonstrate its commitment to honesty and consumer well-being while also guarding against costly recalls and setbacks to brand reputation. A purpose-built food ERP facilitates an ideal approach to mastering this.

Consideration #3: Sustainability

With climate change and social justice all over the news, customers want to know that the businesses they buy from are doing right by the planet and their people. The success of startup Patagonia Provisions shows how today’s disruptive food and beverage brands are carving out their place on the strength of their sustainability efforts.

Two statistics from research by Forbes drive home how important this topic is for shoppers—a convincing 65% of consumers look for products that help them live a more sustainable and socially responsible life, and 54% try to purchase products or services from brands that take a stand on social or environmental issues. What’s more, sustainability was named the top trend to prioritize in the coming year among participants in IDC’s survey.

The right ERP system can help your company be “part of the solution” by both reducing waste and increasing efficiency. Robust inventory management tools help to ensure that you use ingredients on a first-expiry, first-out (FEFO) basis, thus getting the most out of what you’ve paid for, and efficiency optimization features identify where you’re losing volume or time in your processes.

One other way that ERP technology allows you to shore up your sustainability strategy is through the flexible and configurable backend that makes introducing new supply chain partners much simpler. By working with the right providers and sourcing responsibly, your organization can be known for sound stewardship like so many of the successful disruptors out there.


of consumers look for products that can help them live a more sustainable and socially responsible life

Consideration #4: Analytics

With the global food industry now valued at more than $81 trillion, we can say with certainty that there’s plenty of data out there for analysis. The disruptors in the marketplace know the value of that information, and they’re putting analytical tools to good use in breaking down buying patterns, predicting demand and pushing new products based on the latest trends.

Respondents to IDC’s survey confirmed the importance of these practices, naming big data and analytics the technology to have the greatest impact on the food and beverage world over the next five years. From better quality control and increased efficiency to more accurate projections for next season’s sales and even new product formulations, the benefits to unlock through analytics are numerous.

To truly harness the full power of analytics, you first need the sort of organization-wide database that an ERP solution can provide, but you also need specially designed features to mine all those numbers for actionable insights. We made sure Aptean’s food ERP has such functionalities, as we want our clients to be right there among the disruptors leading the conversation on intelligent food and beverage operations.

Consideration #5: Integrations, Automations and Agility

Agility is a requirement for success in the food and beverage industry, and the disruptors on the market know this well, as they jump on emerging opportunities and accelerate their plans to maximize earning potential. Of course, simply asking your employees to work faster or hoping your machinery can get the job done on time isn’t likely to grant you the speed you need, so it’s critical to work smarter by integrating new technologies into your processes, as NotCo is doing with artificial intelligence (AI).

Equipment that connects with the Internet of Things, including sensors, thermometers and scales, can supercharge your information pipeline, allowing you to track important quality characteristics in real time and intervene should issues arise. Handheld bar code and QR code scanners are other tools that should be a part of every food and beverage business’s approach to data collection, as they take the guesswork and room for human error out of the equation.

AI and robotics—which were both among the top eight for technologies to have the greatest impact in the next five years in IDC’s survey—are two more areas to look into with regards to increasing your ability to compete with the most disruptive companies. Both can be used to automate processes that would otherwise take employees much longer to do, streamlining procedures and providing greater reliability.

Of course, a good food ERP is the foundation on which advanced operations can be built, so look first to your system to ensure that you’re prepared to integrate with the new gadgets and applications you’re considering. With the right base, you’ll be in a position to navigate your sector with the confidence necessary to compete with even the most disruptive new business models.

Emphasizing Mobility and Flexibility in the Future

One final fact to keep in mind is how important accessibility is in today’s fast-paced world. You’d better believe that the disruptors of the food and beverage industry are prepared to act on the fly and give their teams the tools they need to do their jobs from anywhere.

Flexible cloud ERP deployments, like those we offer here at Aptean, are the answer for businesses that want their staff to have the freedom of mobility, as well as reliable service. Our dedicated cloud IT teams and redundant offsite servers keep uptime at 99.9% or above, and that dependability can be the difference between meeting your production and profitability goals and falling short.

We also make a point to act as a partner in the implementation process and beyond for all of our clients, as we know that the journey can be long and complicated. If your organization is looking at starting a digital transformation—or increasing the priority you place on an ongoing modernization initiative—we’re here to guide you through the journey and get you ready to play on the same level as the disruptive companies making waves in the industry.

Ready to learn more about our industry-specific food and beverage solution, Aptean Food & Beverage ERP, and how it can keep your business competitive with disruptors in the market? Contact us today.

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