Food and technology are no longer a new combo. Technology has made a robust footprint in the food and beverages industry. It is playing a major role in taking food from farms to forks. But what exactly ‘food tech’ is all about? How impactful is it?
The food chain is inextricably complex. From farmers to retailers and then from retailers to shops, your food undergoes a long journey and crosses several hands in this journey. It takes an army to run it. This food chain is not only complex but also centralized and rigid. Millions of challenges are faced by each person that is involved in this process.
How these challenges are resolved? How such a complex food chain is kept under check? How to carry this chain to ensure minimal to zero error? The answer to all these questions is the buzzword, ’technology’.
Innovative and tech-driven concepts have brought a revolution in the food retail sector. They have enabled retailers to deal with the changing paradigm of the food industry. This paradigm change is an aftermath of numerous factors such as a change in the demand of consumers post the pandemic, ever-changing rules, and regulations, elevated competition in the global market, environmental challenges, etc.
All these concerns are addressed and resolved with the help of tech-driven innovations and the food retailers who resisted these tech-savvy ways of operating were forced to shut down. They were thrown out of the competition by their rivals and never got the opportunity and strength to stand back on their feet.
Let’s have a deep insight into these innovative and tech-driven concepts that have made the food retail sector more convenient, efficient, and reachable.
Tech-Savvy Concepts in the Food Retail Sector
Blockchain: A Revolution for Retailers and Consumers
When we talk about technology in the food retail sector, we have to begin with blockchain. Consumers are stepping back from ordering food as they have a fear of catching the virus, especially post the pandemic and the mortalities that followed it.
One of the major concerns in the food retail sector is the lack of transparency. As per ‘Trace One’, 92% of consumers want to know the source of their food. They want to know from where their food is coming to their doorsteps. They don’t want to be in a dark room post ordering food, but rather desire to get all the details regarding the delivery process.
Customer demand for quality and transparency is visible across the food chain, especially from retailers and restaurants because knowledgeable consumers are empowered to make better choices. Blockchain is the way out for retailers and restaurants. It has enabled them to serve their customers and retain them.
Artificial Intelligence to Reduce Operational Expenses
One of the major concerns in the food sector is its operational expenses. At times it becomes nearly impossible to handle them in a way that enables food retailers to bring more profits to the table. But with the arrival of artificial intelligence, things have taken a positive shift.
Artificial intelligence is not an old concept in the food retail sector but it has completely dominated the entire sector. AI has brought efficiency to the food chain and led to a reduction in the waste of food products and money.
AI has helped food retailers in the following ways:
Food safety monitoring and investing products at each step of the food supply chain.
More precise forecasting to manage pricing and inventory.
Tracking products from the farm to the fork to provide transparency.
Smart Vending Machines: An Assurance of Quality and Hygiene
Who knew that there will be a day when we will be able to grab our favorite foods and snacks on the way through the machine? But vending machines have made this possible. They have made food more accessible.
Post the pandemic, all consumers were worried about is the hygiene factor of the food that they are consuming. The fear of catching the virus restricted the consumers from enjoying their favorite street foods and this is when these smart vending machines came for their survival. These machines were placed in hospitals, malls, apartments, etc, to serve people in their hour of crisis.
These machines allowed consumers to indulge not only in snacks but their traditional dishes as well. For instance, these machines allowed Gujaratis to enjoy dhokla and Punjabis to enjoy parathas without worrying about the spread of the virus as these machines allow contactless payment as well through QR code scanning.
Moreover, the products are from top-notch food companies and thus quality factor is kept under check.
Drones: A Means of Transport of Food
The presence of drones in the food industry supply chain has proven invaluable. They help farmers in taking care of their acres of field and thus are used at the basic step of the entire supply chain.
As drones can cover miles of ground, they act as the perfect monitoring vehicle for farms. They can carry sprays across a field and they can look for any animals that have run away. The sheer range of drones makes them ideal for agriculture.
Moreover, sanitation is vital in the food industry, and drones help maintain the best standards. Drone cameras have ultraviolet (UV) lighting, which picks up on dirty surfaces and lingering messes or bacteria.
These drones have helped immensely in the time of pandemics and lockdowns by not only delivering food but also medicines to the needy.
Food is a basic necessity and thus food industry always stays on its toes. The entire food supply chain is complex and perplexing but what has made it easy to execute is the high-tech innovations. These tech-driven innovations have helped retailers to meet their customer’s demands and provide them with the best.
Technology has brought retailers and consumers close to each other by dropping the curtain that earlier used to be between them. The transparency and efficiency that technology has bestowed on the food supply chain are worth praising and acknowledging.