A food industry forecast commissioned by Emerson Climate Technologies and produced by David Henkes of Technomic, a consulting and research firm specializing in the food & beverage industry, has provided some interesting insights and intelligence into what will drive change in the food industry by examining key trends through 2020. Here is what Henkes has to say about technology and big data.

According to Nishat Mehta, EVP of global partnerships, Dunnhumby, exclusive marketer from Kroger food stores, “We make decisions not on what you bought today, but what you have bought over the last two years. You don’t have to know but we know.”

The foodservice industry is changing and recognizing the benefit of big data. “Food quality is still important, but it’s not number one anymore. Now it’s data, it’s analytics.” said Jeff Wineman, EVP New Business Development, Levy Restaurants, after losing a concession contract to the data-savvy Aramark.

Big data coming out of the analytics in the food industry is poised to affect pricing, product assortment, demand planning, forecasting, market reach, and effectiveness. For example, shopping and buying habits are changing. On-line research, shopping and buying is increasing and those with the most up to date analytics are the early winners. Many online operators in the food industry like Plated, Magic Kitchen, Freshology, and Peapod, as well as some leading brick and mortar operators, have taken a leadership position based on the data they have collected.

Even equipment manufacturers and distributors are getting into the big data/analytics game. Cooking equipment, commercial ovens, dishwashing equipment, worktables and stations, commercial sinks, and plumbing and faucets are some of the items featured on the website webstaurantstore.com. Wholesale distributors who specialize in non-food items required in the food service industry can use their online ordering system not only as a quick and easy purchasing platform but they also use the data from previous customer orders to recommend support products to their customers, thereby providing better service, and as a method of increasing their revenues.

Technology, big data, and analytics are definitely driving change in the food industry.

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