Rise of the robots

Digitalization in food & beverage

Even what we eat and drink isn’t safe from the throes of modern technology. Of course, that’s not a bad thing. Digitalization has weeded its way into all facets of our daily lives. In this article, we’ll be discussing the role of digitalization in the food and beverage industry. This will include some wonderful developments coming from some companies that will revolutionize the way we consume.  

The food and beverage industry is comparatively unique as opposed to other sectors. This is due to a host of factors, like seasonal/regional changes, quality restrictions, timeliness, and scale of production. But this means that the sector is also uniquely situated to take advantage of digitalisation. For example, digitalization in this industry can provide data about shopping trends, leading to better profitability. Or in another instance, it could enable food customization, which contributes to overall customer experience.  

As a result, are several companies in this industry pioneering and embracing the Digital Age: 

Arla and Big Data  

Arla is building one of the world’s biggest sets of environmental data from dairy farms. The compiled data will allow farmers to pinpoint exactly where they’re producing the most carbon emissions on their farm and help them identify where and how to improve. By inputting as much information into the data system as possible – including things such as herd size, milk volumes, and feed production – this ‘Climate Check’ system will then enable external environmental advisors to develop personalized climate plans for the farm.  

Using big data in this manner will actually help Arla decarbonise. By constantly performing climate checks, Arla farmers are provided with a wealth of data to help them do so. About 8,000 Arla farms across Europe submit this kind of data. These farms are proven to be some of the most efficient dairy farms in the world. The best Arla farmers are capable of producing a kilo of raw milk with a footprint of below 1 kilo of CO2.

According to Arla Foods Chairman Jan Toft Nørgaard, “The unique data set that Arla farmers have now created […] We will use this to decarbonise our farms at a faster pace and share our findings with stakeholders to help drive an effective transition for the whole industry.”

Cargill’s brainchild: Meet R2DMoo 

Herding cattle isn’t as easy as it sounds. Cows are very large and potentially very dangerous creatures, meaning that the people on cattle farms who herd them sometimes find themselves in less-than-ideal situations. So, building off a pre-existing robot design seen on the internet, plant operations manager Brad Churchill came up with R2DMoo 

R2DMoo has durable feet that enable it to trample over muddy ground. It has a blower so that it can edge the animals along without touching them and little arms that wave back and forth to mimic humans. And crucially, it has a voice that says things like “Hey! Come on! Let’s go!” Controlled via remote by a human who still stands within the pen, the robot allows for the workers to keep a safe distance away from the animals.  

AB InBev: Bigger, Better Digitalization

Anheuser-Busch InBev controls some of the world’s most popular beer brands, like Stella Artois, Corona, and Budweiser, but incorporates about 500 brands in total. Running such a massive enterprise requires the latest innovations in digitalization. AB is in the process of using data to improve its business processes, its relationship with customers, and its beer. They are planning to consolidate their core transactional systems, resulting in one powerhouse of data and seamless connectivity.  

By transitioning to a centralized system where almost all of their data is stored in a cloud, AB has actually streamlined many of its processes. They use a system wherein their various data sources feed into data pipelines. This pipeline can be reused or reconfigured.

According to Harinder Singh, director of data strategy, “We have so many data systems… [It would] take us many, many years if we build one pipeline per system. So the biggest part that we have done as a company, as a team, is we have built these reusable modules.”

Want to read more about digitalization or consumer markets? Be sure to follow us on LinkedIn! Next week, Heitor will be discussing digitalization within Anheuser-Busch InBev with Allan Freire, the company’s Technology Director for Supply Chain.
We’re constantly discussing all the latest, most relevant developments in the supply chain. This article is part of our series about the future of consumer markets, focusing on the four pillars of diversity, sustainability, innovation, and digitalization. You can find the other articles in the series here.
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