Counting Down the Top 10 Articles of 2021 – No. 3: COVID-19 Provides a Push for Digital Innovation

Join us as we look back at ProFood World’s most popular articles of 2021. At No. 3, a look at the state of automation in the food and beverage industry reveals the pandemic’s effect on digital initiatives.

With demands caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, West Liberty Foods had to shift more of its production from bulk food service packages to smaller retail packages for consumers.
With demands caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, West Liberty Foods had to shift more of its production from bulk food service packages to smaller retail packages for consumers.
Photo courtesy of West Liberty Foods

Our February 2021 cover story, written by Aaron Hand, focused on how automation is shaping up in the food and beverage industry. As food and beverage manufacturers scrambled to keep workers safe and shelves stocked, many moved forward with automation and digital transformation initiatives that might have only been on the radar before the pandemic.

Digital transformation has long been on a forward trajectory, but now more than ever, food and beverage manufacturers are finding it essential to make the leap. After a brief pause as companies stopped to figure out their next moves, the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic has seen a surge of activity on that front.

Food and beverage manufacturers, considered essential, have had to figure out how to continue operating while keeping their workers safe. Connecting them remotely has been instrumental. “Getting people off-site who didn’t need to be there was a high priority,” notes Bob Argyle, chief customer officer at Leading2Lean (L2L). “Anybody that didn’t need to be hands on needed to work from home if they could.”

The sector has also been hit hard by changes in consumer demand—as service businesses dipped, a major burden was put on grocers to get products to the shelves. A supply chain shaken by the pandemic is looking for resiliency.

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COVID-19 Provides a Push for Digital Innovation

 

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