Food from the 3D printer, intelligent packaging to check shelf life and digital traceability of products from plate to field. The food industry will change radically in ten years. This is the result of a representative survey conducted by the digital association Bitkom and the Federal Association of the German Food Industry.
Two thirds of the companies (68 percent) forecast 100% traceability back to the origin of the goods thanks to digital technologies such as Big Data or Blockchain. This is the result of a representative survey of around 300 companies in the food industry commissioned by the digital association Bitkom and the Federal Association of the German Food Industry (BVE). Two thirds (65 percent) also see food produced individually for the consumer as a common scenario in 2030. Almost every second company believes that consumers can check shelf life using intelligent food packaging (46 percent). “The food industry is already technologically up to date,” says Bitkom Managing Director Dr. Bernhard Rohleder. “With robotics, big data or blockchain, the industry will not only continue to optimize its business processes, it is also facing a real revolution. Christoph Minhoff, CEO of BVE, explains: “Digitization in food production will not stop with agriculture, because it will bring completely new dimensions to companies along the entire production and processing chain and also to consumers, for example in terms of food safety. It is now important that digital processes from field to plate are interlinked. This will bring the greatest benefits for our companies, the entire chain and consumers.”
Digitization as an opportunity
70 percent see digitization as a major challenge for the food industry. High wage costs and rising production costs (76 and 74 percent respectively), increasing market competition (76 percent), rising consumer expectations and a shortage of skilled workers (73 percent each) are mentioned even more frequently.
According to the survey, the vast majority of the food industry (84 percent) sees digitization as an opportunity, but companies still see major hurdles on the way. Nearly nine out of ten companies believe that the shortage of skilled workers is an obstacle to digitization. Only just under three out of ten companies (29 percent) have their own team that deals exclusively with digitization. Minhoff: “Companies are willing to invest in digitization. However, there is a lack of specialists to actively shape the digital transformation. This shortage needs to be remedied.”
The great majority see a large number of advantages resulting from digital technologies in the food industry. Virtually each company (98 percent) expects improved processes and higher production efficiency through digitization. In each case 9 out of 10 forecast improved product quality and more sustainability (93 percent), as well as more transparency in the processes (90 percent). More than 8 out of 10 think that digitization will bring producers closer to consumers (81 percent) and allow more flexible work organization (76 percent). According to the companies surveyed, another advantage is the greater individuality of products and services (66 percent).
As many as six out of ten companies are already pursuing a strategy for coping with digital change and a large majority are already using digital technologies. Two out of three companies (66 percent) use digital solutions, and one in four is planning to use them. Cloud computing is used particularly frequently (47 percent) or is being planned (15 percent). Robots (use: 38 percent, planning: 27 percent) and Big Data (use: 22 percent, planning: 13 percent) are also widespread. 18 percent of companies use IoT in their factories and 14 percent plan to do so. Artificial intelligence (8 percent) and blockchain (3 percent), on the other hand, have hardly been applied to date.