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Aptean’s Food and Beverage 2021 Global Symposium – State of the Food and Beverage Industry Keynote Session Recap

Aptean’s Food and Beverage 2021 Global Symposium – State of the Food and Beverage Industry Keynote Session Recap


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Aptean’s Food and Beverage 2021 Global Symposium – State of the Food and Beverage Industry Keynote Session Recap

6 Oct 2021

John McCurdy
A team discusses findings and thoughts.

Yesterday, Aptean hosted our annual Food and Beverage Global Symposium. Our virtual event was jammed-pack with great content, insightful presentations, case studies and industry best practices. For those who couldn’t join us live, we’ll be recapping all of our sessions with this blog series to highlight and the key takeaways from each session.

The day got off to a great start as Kevin Prouty, group vice president at the International Data Corporation (IDC), gave the first keynote on findings from the Global Food and Beverage Industry Trends and Strategic Insights whitepaper. His considerable experience in manufacturing, combined with the fascinating statistics gleaned from the survey, made for a thought-provoking presentation.

The first subject discussed was general recommendations for food and beverage executives, which served as a good way to set the table for what was to come:

  • Pursue digital transformation aggressively and holistically

  • Assess your ERP and evaluate its fit with your organization

  • Use artificial intelligence only as long as it serves your purposes and doesn’t bog processes down

  • Automate processes whenever possible to save on time and labor

  • If you’re behind on traceability and sustainability, now is the time to get up to speed

Next, Prouty highlighted 10 digital operations opportunities for food and beverage businesses, two each in five broader categories:

  • Modernize with remote work capabilities by taking advantage of collaboration platforms and trusting to AI for on-site inspections

  • Keep tabs on operations and assets from afar by using connected devices and focusing on the convergence of information technology (IT) and operational technology (OT)

  • Invest in process automation by leveraging AI for decision support and robotics for manual operations

  • Harness the power of innovations that improve product quality, like traceability and food safety solutions

  • Forge a more resilient supply chain by investing in warehouse robotics and taking ownership of your networks and systems

With that, the session shifted to the main topic—data-based takeaways from the report. Prouty noted that data generation in food and beverage is projected to triple by 2025, but data consumption is growing even faster, meaning the audience and potential impact of data going forward will be even greater.

Here are a handful of the many insightful points covered:

  • The top lingering concerns from the COVID-19 pandemic are transportation and delivery delays, as well as staffing issues. These disruptions prompted an acceleration of digital transformation initiatives at companies around the world.

  • Industry professionals chose changes in consumer demands and preferences as the development that would impact food and beverage the most over the next 5 years, with 45% of respondents selecting that option.

  • Future global disruption was ranked highest among the threats to the food and beverage landscape, with approximately 43% of participants indicating that response, and the increasingly disruptive marketplace was right behind that at 38%.

  • The top three trends to prioritize were sustainability (39% of respondents), food regulation and legislation (37%) and employee health and safety (36%). This shows a real commitment to ensuring the well-being of both workers and consumers.

  • Businesses are dedicated to their digital transformation efforts and have made significant progress, with 32% reporting that they’ve implemented automatic digital data capture and analytics for business insights and 24% saying they’ve completed the process and are realizing the benefits.

  • Approximately 80% of all respondents reported improvements in KPIs directly attributable to their digital transformation initiatives, and these gains were across all areas of business.

  • Respondents in IT roles saw their companies as being further along in digital transformation than their line-of-business counterparts, as they reported higher marks for the maturity levels of their food safety and traceability, supply chain management and Industry 4.0/smart manufacturing efforts.

  • While having an ERP solution in place leads to positive effects across the board, they’re even more pronounced for businesses that implemented their system via the cloud. Those companies show gains of up to 18% higher compared to those with on-premise deployments.

Finally, Prouty touched on some key takeaways for audience members:

  • Changing consumer demands, sustainability and future disruption should all factor into your business’s plan for the next five years.

  • Food safety, traceability and sustainability should be among your organization’s priorities for next year if they are not already.

  • Food and beverage business leaders differ in their perceptions of their business’s digital transformation maturity. IT professionals are more likely to think their organization is further along in the journey.

  • The top technologies for investment should be big data and analytics tools, as well as Internet of Things and AI devices.

  • Enterprise software continues to be foundational in the food and beverage industry, especially among North and South American businesses.

  • Digital transformation efforts have significant positive effects and improve KPIs across the board.

  • Cloud ERP deployments have a distinct edge over on-premise implementations, driving even better results.

Intrigued by these findings and want to know more? Discover our 2022 recap and offerings. Download the full Global Food and Beverage Industry Trends and Strategic Insights whitepaper for free today.

Be sure to check back for more of our session and panel recaps. And if you’d like to view any of our sessions on-demand, you can do so here.

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