New Technologies for Effective Food Supply Chain

Written by Ginny Liew Kit Wan, ADPSM

The Industry 4.0 era (also known as the “fourth industrial revolution”) is upon us and manufacturing companies around the globe are increasingly embracing automation and data exchange and implementing new technologies including cyber-physical systems, internet of things (IoT) devices, cloud computing, artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning, robotics, and advanced data analytics.

Digital technologies are providing the tools to improve traceability, trust and ultimately shape food supply chains to withstand the predicted challenges of the future. A rapidly growing urban population and increased consumer awareness regarding sustainability are prompting food companies and manufacturers to employ digital solutions to ensure product quality. They include investing in technological innovations with a focus on food processing, safety, and packaging to distinguish themselves in an intensely competitive marketplace. Here are my recommendations:

Augmented Reality (AR) Technology

Companies can now print AR labels in various verticals thus offering a better user experience. This leads to more satisfied user expectations which in turn will lead to brand loyalty. Effectively what the augmented reality packaging does is that it gives the customers a platform to interact with the product.

It also allows brands to increase the effectiveness of their targeting efforts. Brands usually have a wide variety of products each geared to a particular segment of the audience. By utilizing AR, they can better cater to this audience segment and provide a more customized user experience. Bets of all, for business, is easy since any label can be slightly augmented to redirect users to see any content that you would like them to see.

As far as the benefits for the shoppers, augmented reality in food and beverage industry can give them a lot of information about the product such as country of origin, nutrition information and even more technical details such as test results and certificates. The best AR brands can even be more creative and show pictures of the farm or factory where the product was made. Using AR technology, all this information would be available in a moment’s notice and can lead to better shopping decisions.

Drone Technology

The advancement of technology has changed with time and drones used in agriculture are a very ideal example of this. In modern times, agriculture is among the major companies to include drones. Drones are being utilized in agriculture to improve various practices of farming. The processes that surface-based and air-based drones are taking care of in agriculture are irrigation, crop health assessment, crop spraying, crop screening, planting, and analysis of field or soil.

Advantages of utilizing drones include crop health imaging, ease of use, integrated GIS mapping, potential to improve yields and save time. With planning and strategy based on existing data gathering and processing, the drone technology offers a high-tech makeover to the farming domain.

Farmers using a drone to capture data on crop growth, monitor weather patterns, and control water and energy usage. They also use predictive analytics to understand soil and air quality, as well as labor and equipment costs, to make more informed decisions. Furthermore, the collection of such accurate data also holds the potential to be a powerful research tool. By collating the data gained from drone use from multiple farms, this dataset can then be used the monitoring of large-scale change across a region, allowing researchers to explore trends and a wider set of farming practices, thus helping to optimize agricultural systems all over the world.

Predictive Analytics Technology

Predictive analytics is an advanced technique that uses algorithms to predict future outcomes based on historical data. Technically it applies the theory of probability to derive what may happen in the future based on past experiences. Ultimately, it’s used to anticipate future behavior by tracking historical data to establish patterns and make predictions accordingly.

For example, managers can leverage predictive analytics when looking to find the shortest and fastest route that takes into consideration conditions such as weather, traffic, mileage, dwell time and so on. This complex task can be made simple with the use of predictive analytics so that logistics managers can rest assured that drivers will be able to reach their planned destinations at the right time.

Supply Chain Ads

Predictive Analytics technology is helping to improve traffic monitoring and data analytics in the transportation sector. It enhances detection accuracy and turns the collected data from cameras and sensors into valuable insights. The insights can be used for event prediction to prevent road traffic injuries, eliminate peak-time traffic congestion, and enhance operational efficiency or for future planning of traffic infrastructures.

Robotic Technology

Roboticscarry out quick and routine full-store audits. The hovering robot uses data analytics, Artificial Intelligence, image recognition, and machine learning to deduct price errors, out-of-stock situations, and provide real-time insights. Powered by the core technologies of cloud and API, Tally is helping Target solve inventory issues, increase revenues, and improve customer satisfaction.

Tally captures data on inventory levels and whether products are on the correct shelves. The technology allows users to restock specific items in the shelves, access real-time sales data, and answer customer queries. Technology is helping employees reduce the burden of inventory management and shift them from the backroom to the sales floor. The autonomous mobile robot can operate safely around people during regular store hours, enabling employees to focus on customer service and restocking items. By rolling out robots in an effort to save money and boost their effectiveness in carrying out the rote, repeatable tasks that are prone to human error.

Blockchain Technology

Blockchain build trust in the food supply chain. With a blockchain track-and-trace solution, it was traced in seconds. This technology is advantageous for everyone in the industry. When outbreaks of foodborne illness occur, the restaurants or grocery stores that served the food are often left wringing their hands, promising to get to the bottom of it. Blockchain track-and-trace will help them immediately track affected items to their origins, locating the issue quickly so they can remove the contaminated products from menus, shelves, and supply chains. Through the latest blockchain initiative, all participants in the global food supply chain will have access to trusted information detailing the origin and state of food per transaction. With better record keeping, it would become much easier to trace products that are contaminated straight to the source, it fast enough to prevent diseases from spreading.

For example, let’s say dozens of customers fall ill with listeria after eating at a restaurant chain. The restaurant tests the food and discovers raw vegetables are the culprit. Using a blockchain track-and-trace solution, the restaurant will be able to track the serial number associated with the vegetable shipment back to the distributor and then to their original supplier. If they find the vegetables are contaminated, that supplier will immediately be flagged on the blockchain, and anyone who has sourced or bought the vegetables will be made aware of the danger.

3D Printing Technology

Many innovators in the 3d printing industry have come up with food printers that enable us to eat healthy and nutritious food more regularly. 3D food printers not only use fresh ingredients for a variety of recipes but also allow stricter control over food portion sizes, thereby reducing overconsumption. Another advantage of these printers is that you can even regulate preservatives, additives and other chemicals added to your food, thereby leading to a healthier meal plan.

3D printing will affect the food industry include –

• Management of inventory for food manufacturers will become easier and cheaper as they would be able to manufacture food based on demand

• Raw materials will represent a large fraction of the cost for a food manufacturer. 3D printed food will allow them to bring down costs allowing for cheaper and more sustainable food

• 3D food printing can radically change food production practices, ensuring better management of resources while reducing wastage of food products

For Example, The Foodini is a 3D printer designed for the home kitchen. The user prepares the ingredients with a food processor or blender, and the 3D printer can print shapes out of the mix. It’s meant to take out the time-consuming process of making things by hand. The Foodini has created food items such as burgers, pizza, and desserts.


In short, new technologies can assist growers optimize yields and help reduce waste, which will be a benefit to the future food supply chain. Embracing new technological ideas and concepts has to be at the forefront of the supply chain’s thought process for driving developments within the food industry. Every food supply chain participant has its unique challenges and advantages, so the key is finding the right technology “mix” to make your supply chain better.

Simbe Robotics

References (2019). “Smart Agriculture With The Advent Of IoT And Drones”. Retrieved from:, accessed 20/06/2019. (2019). “Impact of 3D Printing on the Food Industry.” Retrieved from:, accessed 20/06/2019.

Karin WangHuijuan, ADPSM. (2019). “Blockchain Visibility food supply Chain”. Retrieved fromSIPMM:, accessed 20/06/2019.

Martin, R. (2019). “Data Analytics and Data Prediction in the Food Industry”. Retrieved from:, accessed 20/06/2019.

Michelle LeeEan Wei, ADPSM. (2019). “New Technologies impact future supply Chain”. Retrieved from SIPMM:, accessed 20/06/2019.

Transport Topics. (2019). “Opinion: Using Predictive Analytics for More Efficient Supply Chains”. Retrieved from:, accessed 20/06/2019.

About the Author: Ginny Liew has substantive experiences in the professional field of procurement and supply chain, specifically in the Food and Beverage industry. She holds a Bachelor Degree in Science from Campbell University. She is a member of the Singapore Institute of Purchasing and Materials Management (SIPMM). She completed the Advanced Diploma in Procurement and Supply Management (ADPSM) on July 2019 at SIPMM Institute.