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Challenges and Opportunities in the Food and Beverage Industry

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The food and beverage industry, globally, is a $600 billion industry and growing, making it one of the biggest employers of people across its value chain worldwide. The COVID-19 pandemic made a severe impact by disrupting the manufacturing and supply chain, right from the restaurant sector to foodservice companies and food delivery firms, everyone was impacted. Countrywide lockdowns prevented employees from working in factories, severely impacting the supply chain further. Farming and other agricultural activities took a hit, which led to the fear of shortage of food. The mass scare of extended lockdowns led to consumers resorting to panic buying, creating further food shortages leading to a major disparity between the ones who could afford to stockpile items and the ones who couldn’t. The aftermath of the pandemic is a fractured industry coping to survive. 

If one observes the situation of the food & beverage industry, pre-COVID-19, it was already facing challenges due to fierce competition, newer markets, changing consumer behavior, increasing food prices, a shift in global appetite, and advanced technology. 

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The industry was facing these challenges and figuring out solutions to meet them head-on but at a slower pace. The COVID-19 pandemic expedited the process of overcoming those challenges quicker to survive. Now, it’s important to see how the industry will fare in the coming years driven by disposable income levels, changing lifestyles, and favorable government reforms.

Listed below are some central challenges identified in the food & beverage industry, with opportunities to overcome them: 

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  1. a) Challenge 1: Banning the use of one-time plastic 

 

The excess consumption and improper disposal of one-time plastic have come up as a major challenge faced by food & beverage managers in the industry. Plastics affect the food chain, as they are a threat to biodiversity in their entirety. 

 

  1. a) Opportunity 1: Implementing the use of bio-degradable alternatives 

 

Consumers have caused a revolution in the food & beverage industry thanks to their awareness of their impacts on the environment, which has led to them preferring bio-degradable packaging alternatives over one-time plastic. This supports food & beverage businesses that are consciously making efforts in minimizing their carbon footprint and making efforts to impact the environment positively. 

 

  1. b) Challenge 2: Less Meat consumption 

 

It’s no surprise here that the food & beverage industry is being driven by trends set by Millenials. This generation of people, thanks to observing their previous generation, has made a conscious effort to steer clear away from animal meat. According to the WEF, the consumption of animal meat is directly proportional to the emission of greenhouse gases. If there is less demand for animal meat, it will automatically result in a reduction of greenhouse gases in the earth’s atmosphere.  Less meat consumption also leads to fewer chances of obesity and other life-threatening diseases. 

 

  1. b) Opportunity 2: Innovation such as plant-based meat products 

 

One saw a spike in consumers shifting to plant-based diets after the COVID-19 pandemic. Consumers have gravitated towards vegetarian or completely vegan diets after realizing the impact their eating habits were having on the lives of animals and the entire food chain. This led to food companies switch to plant-based alternatives. Swapping traditional meat for plant-based meat is a wise decision as it not only reduces the consumption of saturated fats but also increases the fiber and vitamin content of a dish. 

 

Interesting plant-based meats: 

 

Ahimi: An alternative to tuna made from tomatoes and other ingredients. 

 

Impossible Burger: A burger with a plant-based meat patty that tastes eerily similar to real meat. The patty is made from soy heme. 

 

  1. c) Challenge 3: Rising concerns of product traceability 

 

Traceability is a central challenge in the food & beverage industry which is again driven by consumers demanding information of what ingredients go into the products they consume and how it’s produced. Food & Beverage companies were facing this challenge as they needed mechanisms that could help them track and compile data of every process. 

 

  1. c) Opportunity 3: Keeping the value chain transparent 

 

Technology such as IoT, AI, and blockchain has helped food processing and manufacturing companies maintain precise data records that result in better supply chain analysis (such as manufacturing practices), tracking ingredients, weight management, temperature monitoring, etc. This is a great step towards keeping the food value chain transparent, where consumers are kept informed about the whole process. 

 

  1. d) Challenge 4: Government compliances and quality control

 

Organizations such as the FDA, FTC, OSHA, etc exist in the food & beverage ecosystem to enforce norms and regulations to maintain the health, hygiene, and consumption standards of the food and beverage products.  The process of maintaining quality standards has given rise to improper waste disposal, surplus production, food waste due to recalls, etc. 

At the same time, food & beverage companies must adhere to label requirements and other rules set by governments in regions and countries. 

 

  1. d) Opportunity 4: Prevent recall rather than cure 

 

Here are pointers on how to avoid food recalls: 

 

  1. i) Do a vulnerability assessment in the food manufacturing unit. This helps in the prevention of malicious tampering of food & beverage products. 

 

  1. ii) Be diligent about daily or weekly accuracy testing. This can help catch ‘microbial issues’ in foods quickly. 

 

iii) Invest in visual and mechanical inspection mechanisms. They help in detecting foreign bodies such as glass, plastic, metal, etc in food items. 

 

The food & beverage industry is still a very lucrative industry to establish a business in. For F&B startups entering the business now, it would be wise for them to take the help of Food & Beverage consultants. These experts understand the nuances and the undercurrents of the industry through experience and analytics, thus giving definite solutions to problems. 

 

The best food & beverage consultants in India belong to HPG Consulting. This consultancy group in particular has worked with the best names in the industry and guided them from conceptualization to implementation. Food & Beverage consultants at HPG Consulting deliver customized solutions that are tailor-made to solve their client’s problems. 

 

Get in touch with a Food & Beverage consultant at HPG today. 

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