March 16, 2015 | Written by: Maamar Ferkoun
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According to KPMG LLP’s 2013 Food and Beverage Industry Outlook survey, 100 US-based senior executives from companies in the food industry, with more than $1 billion in revenue, saw cloud computing as an industry growth factor that could provide deeper interaction with consumers and increase business opportunities. This is, of course, if the organizations effectively deploy the technology and efficiently use it.
Because of these benefits, many businesses in food supply chain management have begun to adopt cloud computing, big data and analytics.
Big data and analytics allow organizations to gain insight and knowledge about their customers while sifting through large amounts of data. They can analyze data to size markets, understand consumer habits, develop new product strategies, target specific categories of consumers, and support marketing campaigns.
Big data tools analyze data from a multitude of locations, keeping track of structured and unstructured data, and exploiting the information in real time. The information collected assists in pinpointing areas of concern and isolating incidents before they reach the consumer.
We have heard stories about unhealthy food reaching the consumer, triggering expensive recalls and a tainted public image for the supplier. This could be avoided if there were mechanisms in place to detect discrepancies at an early stage in the supply chain.
Mounting concerns regarding food safety have prompted food producers and suppliers to use cloud-based sensors to provide information on location, monitor status and other parameters that help assess, track and trace the product at every stage of the supply chain. This allows them to pinpoint the specific time and place of any inconsistency.
This has not gone unnoticed by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which launched its cloud-based OpenFDA to quickly search, query or pull massive amounts of public information instantaneously and directly from FDA datasets.
Cloud computing and big data are driving the food industry as a whole, with the cloud infrastructure providing the backbone to gather and analyze data through the food supply line management: from the field where the crop grows, the warehouses that store it, the containers that ship it to, the consumer that buys it. This is a viable alternative to previous costly investments in hardware and software, allowing the industry to react faster to shifting environments in the marketplace and gain a competitive advantage.
How do you think cloud has affected the food industry? Comment below to continue the discussion.