Consumer values, interests, and — most importantly — taste buds, are rapidly changing. Companies competing in the food and beverage industry need incredible product differentiation just to get noticed in the crowded field. But inspiration and luck alone won’t be enough to succeed.
The key to achieving product differentiation is to embrace change and drive innovation. But this isn’t all intuitive — it requires collecting and managing a massive amount of data. The real question is, how do you handle the product lifecycle systematically?
Advancements in AI and automation technology are changing every industry, and the transformation has even come down to the food and beverage sector. A dedicated product lifecycle management (PLM) platform is the missing ingredient.
From advancements in science to simple consumer trends, 2022 is full of change in the marketplace. Here are some of the biggest impacts on F&B manufacturers:
In-house research and development, scientific breakthroughs, food quality, safety, and regulatory compliance have always been critical factors to consider when developing a product. But food regulations are changing in ways that are shifting the market. Case in point, more than 50 countries have recently implemented a tax on sugar, adding an unusual layer of complexity for manufacturers to calculate ROI of their products. The growing consumer demand for clean labels also puts more pressure on companies to maintain supply chain visibility.
Society has been embracing a wellness movement that considers food to be one of the most important factors in overall health. With climate change, that outlook is now extending to include caring for the planet, too. A growing number of consumers are adopting plant-based, and sometimes entirely vegan, diets to mitigate carbon emissions. Right alongside this movement is increased demand for sustainably or ethically sourced food and ingredients. Now, F&B manufacturers are expected to improve traceability, even as they struggle to predict future trends and perfect new plant-based recipes.
Finding shelf space in the fast moving consumer goods sector is increasingly daunting as retailers are focused more on microtrends in food products. This makes it easy for disruptive startups to gain a foothold in retail — but also hard to maintain when the trends change. Now, every player in the industry has to keep innovating new products or reformulating them, a process that requires significantly more cost, time, management, and labor.
Innovation is the only way to thrive, or even survive, in the current F&B marketplace. However, innovation — from product development to proof of concept — is incredibly time consuming, with a longer idea-to-market pipeline than some trends might even last.
Having complete control over and insight into the product lifecycle is essential for innovation. But these days, that encompasses every aspect of a product, including raw material sourcing, recipe development, optimization, targeting, labeling, and packaging material. Excel spreadsheets aren’t up to the challenge of keeping all that data organized.
PLM helps manufacturers apply a consistent set of process solutions to support collaborative creation, management, dissemination, and use of product information and data across their organization, from the concept stage through to finished product on the market. Food and beverage manufacturers who have the right system and processes can easily respond to quickly changing market demands, which in turn puts them ahead of the competition.