Impact of COVID on the Food and Beverage Industry
The Food & Beverage sector has been evolving. People have a little more income and a little less time. As a result, we have begun to have less time to prepare meals and have leaned more and more towards ready-cooked meals or eating out. We travelled to work, eating on the go, we ate in the canteen or city centre and maybe prepared a ‘ready meal’ in the evening.
However, those trends were very significantly disrupted by Covid.
The supply chains to source, assemble, prepare and serve us were reasonably predictable, but take a look at what has happened:
A typical family might eat out twice a week. Let’s say at Nando’s, (Home to the legendary flame-grilled PERi-PERi chicken. Afro-Portuguese inspired. South African born as they describe themselves). The options available now are to eat in at Nando’s, Have Nandos delivered by JustEat, pick up a Nando’s on the way home, or pick up Nando’s Sauces, Rub-ins or a Cook-in-the-bag kit at the supermarket and prepare at home.
This proliferation of choices and the supply chain responsiveness to support it is being referred to as Liquid Retail.
Similarly, a fuel forecourt now employs sandwich makers, pizza makers, chefs, baristas, and Chinese take away chefs. Recent changes brought about by Brexit and other roll-backs from globalisation are also challenging supply chains. And if those headaches were not enough, the food and beverage sector has depended on low wage costs, which have attracted immigrant workers. These workers are not as inclined to cross borders and live in cramped conditions anymore.
The answers to these problems are not simple, they require some automation and digitalisation, they require some business transformation, and some lean processes. They require incredible agility and flexibility both within organisations and between organisations in supply chains.