What’s really driving logistics in the food industry?
Since Covid & the pandemic, it’s not uncommon to often wander into a supermarket and see bare shelves. The emptiness was quite saddening especially when you’re running low on certain items, especially toilet paper!
We still continue to feel the effects of the pandemic and are still seeing dramatic shortages of meats, fresh produce and packaged goods as a result of supply chain disruptions, such as unpredictable demand, staff shortages, weather-related delays. The problem is also being felt by restaurants who are constantly having to revamp menus or even scale down to address the problem of unreliable suppliers and costs that are now skyrocketing.
Persistent volatility is the new norm in the food logistics industry, well, it probably will be for the next couple of years. Covid still wreaks havoc in numerous countries alongside retailers and restaurants starting to over order available goods to enable them to cover what’s needed which does in fact have a domino effect and impacts lots of businesses down the line or can lead to the wasting of perishable items.
The factors listed do really make navigating the food logistics and food supply chain very, very difficult.
However, there are a few trends that can be noticed amongst the disruptions that can assist with helping clients improve operations.
Certainty is as important as price
Getting groceries within the hour or even in the same day for some of the most obscure items is becoming more commonplace, but, for supermarkets and restaurants, having food delivered on time is even more important. Ensuring food arrives on time is necessary to making sure that operations continue to run smoothly and customers are kept satisfied.
Not having enough of the basic amenities when a storm hits can send even the most loyal customers into competing stores and really damage the reputation of businesses. Restaurant’s also feel the untimely deliveries too – imagine having lots of take away containers turn up half way through a fully booked dinner service? Far from ideal.
Artificial intelligence and machine learning will be the driving force for increased efficiency
Being extremely precise and exact with timings and routing can really exceed clients expectations and also lead to increased efficiency. Machine learning combined with artificial intelligence is really pushing the food logistics industry forward.
Historical delivery stats combined with increased insights into other factors, such as extreme weather, traffic help businesses to come up with better routes and plan deliveries more precisely. The technologies used can really help to not only optimise the process in order to get loads more deliveries completed during the working day but also help to address other shortages that the pandemic has left businesses feeling.
Delivery timelines can still be met with hybrid/dynamic routing
Lots of food distributors do have lots of customers on static routes, hitting deliveries at the same times every week. While some of those customers do actually need the rigidity static deliveries offer, some do have a lot more flexibility.
Introducing, hybrid routing.
Instead of sticking only to static routes, processes are changing to get the right products to the right customers at the right time. Leveraging a hybrid routing process can allow higher profit clients to remain satisfied with delivery times – the smaller, more flexible companies can be dynamically routed via hybrid routing to level the load and allow everyone to continue to benefit.
When there are last minute changes to a plan it really doesn’t take a colossal effort to adjust your routes accordingly.
The future of food delivery
Prior to the pandemic, food logistics was complex but the addition of COVID-19 really has increased this complexity and introduced scenarios and outcomes we didn’t think were possible prior to 2020.
Pandemic related challenges are expected to run well into 2023 and beyond but the trends mentioned really are creating a new way to tackle to ever changing world of food logistics. Food distributors can reduce the toll that the current imbalance between supply and demand has by adopting the trends mentioned above and satisfy customers around the globe.
Contact one of our Account Managers to see how much help we can offer your business today.