The webinar, “What Emerging Technologies Mean for the Meat Industry,” was presented by Meatingplace and cosponsored by JLS Automation and Soft Robotics.
Technology is changing the meat and poultry business across all segments and up and down the entire value chain, said Janette Barnard, sales and marketing director for DecisionNext, and author of “The Top Line” blog on Meatingplace.
Barnard told webinar participants technology is advancing so rapidly that those who aren’t on top of the trends driving tech into the meat industry — industry need, margin, Amazon influence and talent — will be at a competitive disadvantage. “From what products we sell, to who and how we hire, to how to structure supply chains — the [technology] gap is only going to get wider between the top tier and bottom tier companies across the meat industry,” she said.
One of the trends driving technology into the meat and poultry sector is the need for digital know-how in areas like blockchain that can improve efficiencies and profits, she added. “The vast majority of venture capital dollars are flowing into the precision crop agriculture but the meat side is the least digitized segment. So, there is a huge opportunity to make today’s processes more efficient and effective [using digital technology].”
Amazon’s move into the food retail space with its purchase of Whole Foods in 2017 has highlighted the need for meat and poultry companies to step up their digital game when it comes to using predictive analytics to make data-based decisions.
Webinar panelist Mike Neil, cofounder and CEO of DecisionNext, noted that until recently the use of digital analytics in the meat and poultry sector has been well below that of other industries. But improved computational capabilities in cloud technology offers the industry opportunities to harness data in a way that could help companies enhance their market forecasting capabilities.
“There are some amazing opportunities [to be gained] by applying analytics to this industry,” Neil said. “One is using simulation techniques to model the commodity markets to figure out the impact of an assumption on price. For example, if there is a disruption in the supply chain like a change in weather, what is the impact on the prevailing price of that commodity?”
Attracting top talent to the meat and poultry business also is becoming more dependent on a company’s ability to utilize technologies such as artificial intelligence in hiring, said agribusiness recruiter Tim Hammerich. “The talent landscape is extremely competitive these days. The Millennial generation grew up with technology and they expect to use technology in their day-to-day lives, including in the workplace. They volunteer their data online, so the companies that are going to attract top talent are going to [need to] leverage this data through technology.”
Bill Rupp, former president of JBS Beef and Cargill Meat Solutions, reminded participants that embracing digital technologies is key to achieving profitable margins and marketing objectives. “The marketplace for meat is the plate at restaurant, at the meat counter and in the digital space. Meat is still a destination category for consumer purchases and as such, requires digital solutions that can enhance selection, trial and ultimately, revenue for manufacturers. I can foresee the day when retailers use the power of meat to differentiate themselves from their competitors and align with manufacturers and producers to create efficient supply chains that will create a competitive advantage — and technology is the enabler.”
This article was originally published on Meatingplace.