Using AI to overcome food and beverage supply chain challengesBy Jon Taylor on July 16, 2019
In the ever-changing, increasingly-competitive food and beverages sector, those companies who are setting the pace are using artificial intelligence (AI) to drive sustainable business growth, optimize processes and accurately forecast demand like never before.
AI in the food and beverage industry is becoming more and more commonplace, with the market expected to register a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of over 65% between 2019-2024. Whether you’re a restaurant, a chain of trendy gin bars or a food processing juggernaut, being able to successfully implement the technology can lead to significant growth for your business – driving return on capital employed (ROCE) and maximising shareholder value, too.
Let’s get something clear; when we say AI, we’re not referring to robot waiters or drones delivering meal kits to your customers’ doors – we’re talking about using the technology to make intelligent decisions which drive more value from the goldmine of data your food and/or drinks company is undoubtedly sitting on right now.
A solid AI strategy has the ability to give you end-to-end visibility of your entire business, from customer acquisition to supply chain to fulfilment. While there are many systems and solutions out there designed to solve food and beverage supply chain challenges, these often target siloed functions – which can negatively impact other areas of a business. With AI, though, you have the ability to leverage data and draw learnings from across the entire value chain of your business.
For instance, how will the latest promotional marketing campaign impact the operations and supply chain functions of the business? This is where data on customers, historic demand and seasonal patterns, for example, can be key.
This interconnected approach to AI can help you to improve forecasting accuracy to assist with inventory management, whilst optimising warehouse capacity to save cash, reduce wastage and hit food and beverage sustainability targets. An end-to-end approach enables businesses to plan more intelligently and achieve ‘supply chain balance’ between service, cash and cost – reducing wastage and improving efficiencies to drive growth and increase their margins.
Our own research shows us that, with the help of AI, UK businesses could reduce their stock levels by as much as £23 billion. With ever-growing product ranges, a public demand for more transparency around where their ingredients are coming from, and with increasing SKU complexity, food and beverage companies need more agile, intelligent solutions to assist with accurate demand planning and forecasting – and that’s where AI can play a crucial role in helping you to solve your food and beverage supply chain challenges.