COVID-19 and the Food and Beverage Industry – What We’ve Learned One Year Later

covid-19 and food

The food and beverage industry was one of the hardest-hit by the COVID-19 pandemic, and its stinging effects are still being felt over a year later. At the beginning of the pandemic, manufacturers faced huge swings in demand, most of which were the result of consumer panic buying and increased demand for non-perishable food items. 

Now, over a year later, the food service industry is beginning to open its doors again.  

Consumer buying patterns are becoming more consistent and industry innovation is back on the rise

Below, we take a look at the ways consumer buying patterns have evolved over the past year and the ways food and beverage manufacturers can find post-pandemic success. 

How Consumer Demand Has Evolved Throughout the Pandemic 

In March 2020, consumers started changing the way they shop for food and beverages and the types of products they bought. Nearly 80% of consumers shopped online for groceries at some point as local supermarket shelves were wiped out. Consumers were also increasingly interested in frozen products, with a 21% increase in sales compared to a year prior. 

Even as demand for meat remained high, plant-based protein options continued to grow in popularity, especially as COVID-19 wreaked havoc on meat processing plants and forced shutdowns of entire facilities. 

Brand loyalty also went out the window when it came to securing staple food and beverage items. Because availability was shaky, shoppers were less concerned about brand and price when it came to stocking their pantries. 

So, what has changed in a year and how can businesses prepare moving forward?  

How Food and Beverage Manufacturers Can Find Success One Year Later  

Successful manufacturers are ones that can future-proof their operations and digitally transform themselves to adapt to changing conditions. Here’s three ways your business can position itself for success: 

1. Operational Flexibility 

Leading manufacturers have been forced to shift operations to accommodate changes in supplier channels. Many food processors, for example, experienced an increase in demand from retail channels and a decrease in demand from restaurants, most of which were forced to close or limit occupancy to curb the spread of the virus. 

Having the ability to adjust operations based on expected and unexpected changes puts manufacturers ahead of their competition. Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software created for the food and beverage industry provides manufacturers with visibility and control over their operations. It also creates the ability to be flexible by easily accommodating changes in volume, capacity, inventory and more. 

2. Enhanced Food Safety 

As food safety regulations and standards continue to change during the pandemic, successful businesses have the ability and tools to comply with regulations and keep their workforces safe. 

A solution like FoodBusiness ERP, for example, can track ingredients bi-directionally throughout the supply chain, which helps to ensure full traceability and product recall management. With access to real-time data, leaders can reallocate workers if someone falls ill, get insight into products and equipment that may have come into contact with a sick employee, and properly sanitize or withdraw affected products. 

3. Alternate Supplier Management 

The COVID-19 pandemic forced many businesses to rethink their supply chain models. Those food and beverage companies that had alternate suppliers in place were better able to source ingredients and products regardless of pandemic restrictions and lockdowns. 

An integrated ERP solution with alternate supplier management functionality allows users to easily change production orders or substitute ingredients if necessary. From there, the system automatically configures ordering, production and shipping based on the substituted ingredient from the alternate supplier, giving companies like yours the flexibility to easily substitute comparable ingredients on the fly. 

How FoodBusiness ERP Supports Business Longevity 

The food and beverage industry is in a repositioning period as daily living conditions start to return to normal. The right tools can help smooth this transition by supporting operational flexibility, enhanced food safety and accurate demand planning.  

Contact us today to learn more about FoodBusiness ERP. 

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