A new year means new strategy, new initiatives and new commitments. It’s a time to reflect and refocus. We’ve elicited the help of our customers and done quite a bit of research on what we think will be six areas in which food and beverage businesses should focus on in 2020. The Food & Beverage game is changing, and we want you to be ready to change with it. We’re here to help.

Price of Product

If you’ve done any kind of grocery shopping in the past five years, you’ve noticed that the prices have been on a steady incline. No grocery department has been immune to these rising prices, nor has any customer avoided these effects. And this trend isn’t expected to change any time soon. According to a recent study from Acosta, nearly half of manufacturers dealt with a price increase in 2018. Because of this pricing conundrum, it’s essential that manufacturers know how to make the best pricing decisions for themselves and the future of their businesses.

To manage the price of a product, not only does there need to be an effective collaboration between manufacturers and retailers, but it’d also be wise for manufacturers to check in on the efficiency and productivity of their factories. If you can figure out your best practices when it comes to your business operations, then you’ll be able to reduce costs in other areas to offset and manage the product price increase.

An enterprise resource planning (ERP) solution focused on you and the specific needs of your industry can help you manage the effect that increased prices on your products have. The right ERP solution can offer you visibility into your business processes and historical trends, and help you to evaluate and predict the price fluctuations of your products.


An efficient manufacturing facility is doing three things really well: organizing everything (inventory, workspaces, employees, processes, materials, tools), eliminating waste (whether that’s labor, space, materials, product), and utilizing data (to improve best practices, to quantify product and labor, to become more cost-effective).

  • Organize Everything – From material to labor to equipment to time to inventory, it’s extremely important to track these resources in one place in real-time. The best way to organize is with visibility into the ins-and-outs of your business. This will allow you to track and organize all aspects across your manufacturing operations.
  • Eliminating Waste – “Waste not, want not.” Mastering food and beverage lean manufacturing practices will help position you for success. Improving standard operating procedures to eliminate waste within a Food & Beverage manufacturing environment will develop a baseline for ongoing adjustments and improvements to drive for better performance.
  • Utilizing Data – Better decisions start with better data… real-time data to be exact. When you make decisions based on the data that’s up-to-date, you’re able to make smarter decisions to improve operational efficiency and streamline business processes.

Electronic Data Interchange

Electronic data interchange (EDI) plays a critical role in the success of food and beverage manufacturers. If you’re looking to reduce manual data entry, streamline order processing, and increase productivity, an integrated EDI and ERP is the key.

Basically, integrating EDI within your ERP helps simplify ordering and paying processes. It eliminates the need to exchange paper and digitizes those communications. Because of this, there’s no need to dedicate labor to entering that data or formulating those communications. It helps streamline processes, manage complex VAN and 3PL requirements, and increase productivity, which is why many of our customers are making EDI a focus in 2020.

Artificial Intelligence

Though we’re at the forefront of the artificial intelligence (AI) tidal wave, there’s no denying that AI will soon play a large role in food and beverage manufacturing. For the simple reason that AI can use what you know, learn what you do, and make your business better. It has the ability to, after extensive training, make data-backed decisions and streamline processes. And as is the case with most machine operating, with AI, you reduce the risk of human error. It opens up a new realm of possibilities within the food and beverage manufacturing sector.

AI can improve operations for food and beverage manufacturing facilities in a few specific ways:

  • Becoming More Productive – Because AI is able to connect the dots between information and data, it can make intuitive decisions. Based on the data it has been provided, AI is able to anticipate where a digital conversation may be going and then can create options for what the next steps may be.
  • Increasing Efficiency with Image AnalysisMicrosoft AI enables manufacturers to get more from their data with two image analysis options: computer vision and custom vision. Though their respective features are specific and individualized, they both are able to index products and employees, help quickly detect issues, evaluate data, and optimize processes.
  • Making More Accurate Forecasts – AI forecasting can connect real-time and historical data to give you precise predictions about whatever components of your business that you want to evaluate.

Healthy Eating

Predictably, we’re advising that you make the healthy eating trend a 2020 focus for your business. Why? Healthy eating is transforming food manufacturing. With consumers’ drive for healthier eating habits, food and beverage manufacturers must evolve to meet the demand. Utilizing an ERP to help with recipe development and execution can help you more easily adjust to the consumers’ demands. From adding more organic elements to eliminating processed ingredients, an industry-specific software solution can support the changes you want to make.

From plant-based to milk-alternative, from low-sugar to high-protein and everything in between, health and wellness have proven to be a primary concern for consumers in recent years. Consumers say they want to be healthy, and that starts with eating healthy. We’d encourage you to reevaluate your current business plan to see where you may be able to either make health-focused adjustments to existing products or maybe even add a new product to the mix.

Though we think healthy eating is more than just a trend and that it’s here for the long-term, these practices that you implement to monitor the healthy eating trend can help you prepare for whatever trends appear in the future.

Robots – Automate Processes

According to Robotics Tomorrow, “Industrial sales in the Americas are estimated at $3.5 billion, with the market for industrial robots sold into the food, beverage and personal care industry projected at $456.1 million, or 13% of all industrial robot sales in the Americas.”

We now live in a world where robots are safely and productively working alongside people in the food manufacturing factory. Robots have helped to automate processes in meat processing, fruit and vegetable handling, and in picking and placing packaged foods. Robots’ ability to manage and monitor the picking, packing, and placing of packaged goods have helped to make food and beverages safe for their consumers; this is due, in large part, because they eliminate the risk of human error. Some of our customers are exploring the various ways they can add robots to their facilities to help automate current processes.

When it comes to your business vision and strategy for 2020, we urge you to consider price of product, efficiency, EDI, AI, healthy eating and robots as possible areas of focus. To learn more about how a JustFood ERP can help you with these focus points, reach out to us today.


Ready for a specialized food ERP? Learn more about Aptean Food & Beverage ERP JustFood Edition — a solution purpose-built to solve your challenges and propel your food business and digital transformation to the next level.