Role of technology and market interface in food processing industry

The food processing and packaging market in India remained one of the few sectors in India which saw growth. The panellists look at which technological advancements and market disruptions facilitated this development

29 Mar 2021 | By WhatPackaging? Team

(L-r) Nitin Puri, Shirish Yadav and Sumit Mathur

The panellist for the session included, Sumit Mathur, chief marketing officer, Kellogg’s; Naveen Pandey, EVP and business head, Marico and Shirish Yadav, vice president, ITC. Nitin Puri, head- E-marketplace, Pioneering Venture, was the moderator for the event.

Yadav presented a complete overview of the trends and opportunities triggered by the Covid-19 pandemic. Right from the rise of eCommerce to the growth of digital channels, localisation of supply chain and the changing consumer behaviour has driven trends such as the focus on immunity and hygiene.

He also mentioned that the app-based purchases and customised shopping will boom and with 5G adaption under consideration which is set to be integrated with 125-bn devices by 2030, the digital commerce channels coupled with consumer online content consumption will transform the Indian food processing and packaging sector.

“The eCommerce market has now transcended beyond grocery shopping, driving newer opportunities. To enhance the offerings of such digital channels, eCommerce players have incorporated technologies such as cloud computing and cybersecurity among others,” said Yadav.

Mathur added, “The eCommerce market has become huge and thus, has become mandatory for the entire business spectrum. FMCG Companies have seen a growth in sales from 5-25% the food and grocery segment, which is substantial.”

He highlighted that consumer engagement is as essential as utilising the eCommerce platforms and brands have to take steps to ensure that their product is not just transactional. And to achieve the same, companies will have to look at the consumer journey and customer service, among other aspects.

Pandey addressed how the industry has started to unlock a range of technologies in the packaging sector which has helped increase the shelf life. He highlighted that technologies that facilitate the growth of the supply chain and innovations that help packaged foods to be as accessible and as affordable as fresh produce will set the tone for the food processing industry in India. These innovations will help brands to unlock the potential of traditional foods and regional flavours, which will not only help the brands but also the farmers.

Citing examples from the practices at ITC, Yadav shed light on how Industry 4.0 is set to disrupt the food processing industry. He said, “There is a range of technologies available under Industry 4.0 which has transformed the food processing industry in India. Robotics has automated tasks such as mixing, sorting and packaging. AI and predictive analysis have helped marketers to forecast the demand by prioritising data. Blockchain has become important for food traceability. IoT has improved food safety. And 3D printing has helped in creating food formulations through computer-aided designs; it offers a great level of personalisation.”

The panellist further discussed how these technologies can bring cost and process efficiencies such as how data analytics can benefit the end-to-end value chain. "Performance management, marketing and consumer insights can be driven by analytics and this can help build new growth ideas," said Mathur.

Mathur’s three Cs in digital commerce 

Consumer – 
The marketers will have to map the consumer journey from a one-to-one basis. Marketers need to focus on translating the funnel from awareness to consideration to involvement.  

Competitive context – eCommerce has lowered down the barrier for entry. This has created ample opportunities for SME’s and also helped big brands to test product launches and scale up accordingly.

Customer service – As a supplier, one needs to offer better services. They can utilise the available data for activities such as inventory management and enhance customer services.