The Top Food Technology Trends for 2020

In the food industry, staying in step with technology has become essential for food businesses to improve processes such as labeling, lot traceability, food safety, and understanding general food trends.

In this article, we’ve listed the top food technology trends for 2020, allowing your food company to be prepared for what’s to come.

Food Safety

Food safety isn’t exactly a new trend; there have always been many components to food safety that businesses need to be sure to keep an eye on. However, we expect the following aspects of safety and compliance to become especially impactful in the coming year:

Traceability

There is a big focus right now on the digitization of the food supply industry, and this trend is only going to continue. Much of this emphasis is on traceability and greater levels of transparency across the food supply chain.

With a supplier network that has become increasingly global, food companies need to be able to detect changes and react quickly to things like health threats. We may very well see new technologies like blockchain play a bigger role in food traceability and transparency.

Food businesses will also need to remain compliant, as the FDA continues to update its HACCP guidelines In addition, record-keeping will be required to be kept in an electronic format, as stipulated by the FDA’s Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA).

Overall, food companies should expect to see the FDA placing greater importance on food safety requirements being technology-enabled. Organizations should try to adopt robust technology systems sooner rather than later so they have time to try out the right technologies as opposed to rushing just to remain compliant.

Package Tracing

Package tracing will be an important part of the traceability food technology trend. For some time, the rule of thumb has been that tracing is necessary for any packaging material that comes in direct contact with food products, but signs show that these requirements are being extended to additional packing levels. For example, if boxes of food are stacked on top of wooden pallets, those pallets must be inspected and tracked for things like insects. There will be an increased need for this in the future with food businesses.

Labeling

Did you know that one of the biggest reasons food companies fail food audits is because of unlisted allergens on food labels? This year, the FDA will be introducing new nutritional label standards that food businesses need to be aware of. They will include regulations such as:

  • Shelf-life labeling
  • New regulation on what can be labeled as “healthy” or “natural” on food
  • Restrictive laws on meat terms usage for meat products

Many of these changes are coming at the request of the general public. People today are scrutinizing food labels more carefully due to a lack of trust in the food industry (and its marketing) that has arisen in recent years. Food companies with clean labels will be better positioned for success.

BE Food Labeling

This January saw the implementation of the National Bioengineered (BE) Food Disclosure Standard, a federal law that regulates GMO food labeling. This law will bring a greater level of clarity and compliance in foods that have been genetically modified (in a way not obtained through nature or conventional breeding). Although BE disclosure information will not be mandatory until 2022, there is already an increased public demand for this information to appear on labels as soon as possible.

Carbon Labeling

Food practices in regard to sustainability and climate change will become ever more important this year (we have a section dedicated to this below). The public is quickly becoming selective about which companies they choose to purchase from based on sustainability practices. In the food industry, many companies have begun adding language to their products in regard to being carbon neutral. For food organizations hoping to keep up and maintain the trust of their consumers, adding carbon neutral language to their labeling systems would be a good idea.

Voice Technology

In an industry that is continually evolving and making rapid changes, companies are finding it hard to keep up with trends. But voice technology presents an opportunity for food businesses to stay relevant and be more agile. By allowing warehouse workers and other employees to record information to a software system without ever touching a keyboard or touchscreen, voice technology can help increase productivity. Modern business software has evolved to incorporate voice activated commands into areas such as inventory control, line-loading, transfers, and more. Voice technology will be a food technology trend we can expect to see many businesses adopt as a way to be more efficient in 2020.

New Markets Due to Diet, Health, and Lifestyle Trends

Today’s food consumer is more informed than ever. People have become increasingly selective in their food choices, whether those decisions be based on dietary, environmental, chemical, ideological, or other factors (or a combination of these).

We will list some of these top diet and lifestyle food trends below, but on a general note regarding food technology trends, your food business needs to look to data mining technologies like Power BI and AI tools so you can better understand your market and adjust your business according to insights gained from such programs.

Increase in Plant-Based Food and Diets

People are increasingly turning to plant-based diets for ethical, dietary, and ecological reasons. This trend is not expected to slow down, as the rise of meat substitutes like Impossible and Beyond Meat make a splash in the market alongside dairy alternatives like almond, oat, and soy milk.

We can also expect to see an increase in the number of plant-based food companies and existing food companies introducing new plant-based products.

Cannabis Foods

Although not approved nor regulated by the FDA, the cannabis industry is a completely new field that didn’t exist just a few years ago. Businesses will need to watch and keep up with any regulatory changes in regard to cannabinoids, as well as product types on the market in states where it’s legal.

Labor Costs and Tracking

With all the technologies and ways of capturing data that are available on the market, food companies are trying to get a more accurate picture of exact labor costs. As domestic and international governments impose a lot of tariffs on material costs and trading partners, it is going to be important for food businesses to find new ways to reduce costs. Taking advantage of tools and technologies that can track labor more accurately will be a big trend in 2020. Some areas that businesses can track are:

  • Training hours
  • Licensing
  • Data inputs
  • Hourly labor
  • Overtime hours
  • Direct v. indirect labor

Sustainability and Waste

The sense of public alarm over the state of the world’s climate has many people and governments pushing for more sustainable practices in the food industry. Large corporations like Wal-Mart have promised to ensure that all products it sells will include sustainable packaging, and more companies are expected to follow suit.

There is an increased demand for companies to offer products packaged in reusable or recyclable materials. People are also asking that businesses large and small make efforts to reduce their carbon footprint, from reducing road travel emissions, to implementing more sustainable agricultural practices, to cutting back on single-use plastics, and more.

Consumers, in general, are expected to become more concerned with greenhouse gas emissions from agricultural production, minimal food processing, food waste, and food transportation. Businesses that can evolve to become more sustainable will be more likely to win over the hearts of global consumers.

New technologies related to tracking and tracing food packaging will help facilitate this trend, allowing businesses to keep track of recycled content information, the number of times a container has been used, and chain-of-custody records to ensure the packaging has been kept “clean.”

Increased Use of Mobile Devices

The advent of food technology systems has made everything in the food industry more mobile, and this food technology trend will continue to spread in 2020.

While this functionality has long been available in mobile warehouse management systems for things like inbound receipts, outbound shipments, and inventory movement, food businesses are wanting to add mobility to other areas of the business, too.

Food companies want not just the warehouse staff to enter information through mobile devices, but other employees, as well. For example, the ability for the quality assurance team to record test results in real-time would be a tremendous benefit for many organizations. More businesses also want to make it simpler to access company data from outside the office, as well to help make processes move faster and become more on-the-go.

Handling Overnight Growth

In the day and age of social media influencers and celebrity endorsement flying across the internet like wildfire, it’s become a common phenomenon for small businesses to become incredibly popular overnight. A husband and wife business that was filling a small handful of orders per week can suddenly experience skyrocketing growth from a single endorsement on social media from someone with a large following.

Businesses face many challenges here, but what they can use to buffer such growth are technology solutions like Electronic Data Interchange (EDI). EDI can give businesses the ability to automate tasks, which enables them to handle rapid growth.

Greater Adherence to Global Standards

Because of the complex landscape of challenges in today’s food supply chain, many food retailers are calling for an increase in global food safety standards. The Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI) recognizes a number of certified audit programs that address everything from packaging to food to materials to storage and distribution and much more.

A call for greater transparency and more consistency in food safety across the globe is a food technology trend that will continue to grow in 2020 as the world becomes increasingly connected online.

bcFood is a complete, robust ERP solution made specifically for the food industry. Food businesses no longer have to worry about staying on top of food technology trends, because bcFood will help them remain relevant and increase their productivity. Read more about the benefits of implementing ERP food software or contact us today to discover more about our tailored food business ERP software.