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    March 10, 2022

    IFMA COEX 22: Choosing Growth Through Technology Partnerships

    Approximately 500 food industry professionals met – in person – at the 2022 IFMA COEX Conference in Austin, TX, March 6-8, 2022. After a two-year period of bleakness and anxiety, there was a spirit of not only cautious optimism but a pinch of excitement as the foodservice industry rolls into 2022 while the grip of the pandemic loosens.

    You could almost hear the collective sigh of relief as industry leaders from every segment of the supply chain shared stories of not only a return of sales but the discovery of new avenues of revenue that could make the future brighter than ever. Time and again, top industry leaders at COEX talked about how they used the past two years of unprecedented change in consumers' buying habits to make an unprecedented change in their business models. The battle cry was to "question the way things have always been done."

    Front and center was technology and its profound place in the changing food business landscape. During one session that culminated into breakout groups for further strategic discussion, conversations were segmented into three categories for easier digestion: Service, Production and Supply Chain. All were heavily influenced by an attempt to offset what was widely agreed upon to be a permanent shrinkage of the food industry workforce. The quest ultimately is to make everyone's jobs easier while simultaneously increasing the customer experience, and technology was seen as the savior from the customer to the C-suite. The scope of where to invest in technology advanced from more efficient consumer engagement to automating aspects of the manufacturing and distribution of products, to partnering with companies to assure supply levels are met, with transparency playing a central role in all activities. 

    Interestingly, transparency meant different things to different people, depending on the challenge they needed to solve first. For some it was finding products for LTOs, for others it was forecasting and being able to stay as lean as possible, maintaining JIT processes to minimize costs while ensuring inventory levels that can cover any unforeseen supply chain disruptions that may still be on the horizon. For the vast majority it was mostly about being able to track their products through the supply chain down to the batch lot level, see bottlenecks, capture and correct quality issues in real-time, and also react instantly and automatically in the event of a recall or product withdrawal - all benefits of partnering with FoodLogiQ.

    The industry is heading in the right direction, but there is a growing roar from operations for their companies to partner with tech solutions like FoodLogiQ that can provide greater visibility and transparency of their entire supply chain. More and more there is a desire to be educated down to the front-line operations level on how technology can help them do their jobs better and faster. 

    The COEX conference was encouraging but showed that we still have a way to go. Most knew nothing about the pending FSMA 204 regulations coming from the FDA. Many had never heard of GS1, the most widely used global system of supply chain standards. Sadly, very few felt their company could handle a recall quickly and efficiently. However, there was an openness and hunger at COEX for technological change that was not evident even just a couple of years ago. It can be best summarized in one word: Partnership. As the food industry faces the post-pandemic future, it craves alliances with leading companies like FoodLogiQ. Mutual collaboration between a quickly changing industry and an experienced and proven technology company is the key ingredient in helping food companies not only survive - but thrive moving forward.


    Our guest blogger Steve Franke is a FoodLogiQ Enterprise Account Executive.


    Tag(s): Food Industry

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