By Monica Popescu, Coca-Cola HBC Business Systems Solutions - SC/Quality Solutions Manager, Coca-Cola HBC and Zoltan Syposs, Ph.D., Coca-Cola HBC QSE Director, Honorary Associate Professor University of Szent Istvan / Food Science Department Hungary
FREMONT, CA: The fresh produce supply chain has become the star of the food and beverage industry as the awareness among the consumers toward conscious eating habits has increased. The origin of the food, duration, conditions of shipping, and packaging quality are some of the essential metrics. Innovation in supply chain management has gained importance, and some of the digitalization trends are promising:
1. Produce Tracking and Cloud Storage:
Due to the online delivery applications and developing interest among the consumers, the status of goods and concern surrounding the fresh produce supply chain have made tracking of the perishables a grave necessity. It is vital to keep in check the freshness levels, and any innovation for fresh produce inventory has been welcomed. Several companies have invested in product tracking and cloud storage for both exporters and importers. The digitalization trends in the supply chain of fresh produce have enormous potential, with accurate demand forecasting, inventory management because nobody knows the conditions the produce is being shipped under.
2. Robotics for Agriculture:
With the lack of seasonal laborers, reduction in the efficiency and high demand for large amounts of produce over the recent years has put the growers in a spot to hire alternative technologies to conduct tasks like harvesting, sowing, and tilling of the fields. Innovations in robotics are tested and implemented to carry out a variety of tasks in the process of cultivation. These robots are equipped with sensors, 3D cameras, and grippers to enable functions like raspberry picking and sowing of seeds.
3. Enabling a ‘Just in Time’ Supply Chain Philosophy:
Modern AI technology, such as Machine Learning, can facilitate real-time visibility into supply and demand data enabling smaller retailers to purchase in quantities enough for their customers’ needs, mitigating wastage, and maximizing freshness. A “Just in time” approach is an accuracy-driven, fluid system of purchasing that is carried out with amounts that are necessary of the retailers to cut down the waste by avoiding an oversupply of goods. The freshness of the perishable goods is maximized, and the proper availability of products across all regions can also be managed without the concentration of goods at a single range of supermarkets. The “Just in Time” approach has exhibited traction among smaller retailers and saving wastage of fresh produce at significant levels.