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With the global food and beverages (F&B) sector poised for enormous growth to satisfy increasing populations and consumer demands, manufacturers need to find ways to leverage emerging trends to keep their business competitive.

Tech firm ABB’s recent whitepaper A taste of the future – understanding what’s driving food & beverage in 2020 and beyond outlined the main global and consumer trends that are expected to characterise the sector over the next few years and the four key drivers underpinning them, namely:

  1. Transparency

  2. Sustainability

  3. Novelty

  4. Convenience


Industry experts surveyed by ABB emphasised the importance of transparency for maintaining trust with consumers, suppliers and industry regulators in today’s connected age. This impacts on all areas of a business, from the C-suite to packaging and marketing.


Automating processes improves productivity and sustainability while reducing errors, all of which can help small businesses to compete more effectively and large brands to regain lost consumer trust.

Improved quality control at all stages reduces complaints and more importantly keeps customers safe, especially crucial in the current health crisis.

AI sensors that are capable of learning can help businesses to lower their energy costs and shorten production timelines while also collecting real-time data for transparency.


Data stored in a blockchain network is immutable and available to anyone with appropriate permission, showing a manufacturer’s transparency and trust in its stakeholders.

As real-time data storage can highlight safety issues before they become more serious, it’s estimated that increasing adoption of blockchain systems could save F&B businesses around US$31 billion per year.


‘Smart’ packaging labels that can be scanned by smartphones and other sensors give consumers and retailers more information than it’s possible or convenient to include on traditional packaging.

From sell-by dates to warnings over possible allergies, consumers can see the information they need at a glance.

Retailers and warehouses can also organise items by use-by date more efficiently, helping to reduce the amount of food waste going to landfill and working towards the circular economy.


F&B businesses can no longer afford to ignore environmental issues, with many consumers choosing brands based on their green credentials and government and industry regulations clamping down harder on emissions.


From manufacturing to distribution, F&B businesses should ensure that all stages of production are as efficient as possible to minimise unnecessary waste and emissions.

This is likely to see more businesses using local producers to reduce the need for long-distance transport and efficient models such as vertical farming that require less land and water to produce the same yields.

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