Does 4IR hold limitless potential for F&B?

Does 4IR hold limitless potential for F&B?

Have you been keeping your eye on the Fourth Industrial Revolution? Experts including Klaus Schwab (Founder and Executive Chairman of the World Economic Forum) believe it’s already underway. Also known as Industry 4.0, or 4IR, it represents huge changes in the way we live, work, and relate to one another.

According to a report by McKinsey, 4IR started in the mid-2010s, when technologies that enable automation and digital connectivity began to transform the manufacturing industry.

And we all know the COVID-19 pandemic rapidly accelerated digitisation and paved the way for technologies like AI and XR to become solidified as part of our daily lives. Not just because technological developments are advancing, but also because the pandemic encouraged more people to accept the value of tech for communication and everyday tasks.

But hold on. We’re here to talk about food, not just tech.

So what are the possibilities for food in 4IR?

The short answer is that there are many possibilities. And as tech continues to develop at pace, the potential implications for the food industry appear to be limitless.

But here are a few ways we’re already seeing innovative industry leaders use cutting edge technology to change the future of food.

  1. Precision agriculture. 4IR technologies enable farmers to collect data on their crops, soil, and weather conditions using IoT (Internet of Things) devices including sensors and drones. This information can then be utilised to improve irrigation, fertilisation, and pest management – resulting in increased yields and more environmentally friendly farming techniques.
  2. Vertical farming. As urban populations continue to grow, we need more efficient and sustainable methods of producing food in cities. Vertical farming enables year-round production in a controlled environment by growing crops in stacked layers utilising LED illumination and hydroponic systems.
  3. Food traceability. 4IR technologies are assisting in improving food traceability, allowing consumers to understand where their food comes from and how it was produced. This can assist in reducing food waste, improving food safety, and give consumers more trust in the food they buy. One really exciting way that innovators are using tech to do this is through blockchain records – giving every ingredient in a product or inventory a digital passport, which can be tracked in the blockchain (we’ll write more about that in another blog post).
  4. Alternative protein sources. As public concern about the environmental impact of animal agriculture continues to increase, there is a growing interest in plant-based and lab-grown meat. 4IR technologies are helping to build these items, making them more accessible and inexpensive.

4IR is changing the food and beverage industry (and the world)

4IR is having a major impact on food businesses, and the companies that adopt new technologies early are more likely to be market leaders in the future – while those that fail to engage with new technological opportunities will fall behind.

Because it’s not just about using sci-fi tech to create new forms of protein, or flying drones over your farmland; all food businesses will be affected by new technologies. Advanced data analytics, for example, are being used to track food safety at every point in the supply chain – driving a rise in safety standards that all businesses will have to stay on top of.

And when food safety standards are heightened by tech, it’s tech that will provide the solutions companies need.

For example:

  • Robotic process automation (RPA) can improve quality control and minimise human errors that could contaminate food during production processes.
  • Cleaning in place (CIP) technologies can efficiently clean food manufacturing equipment – without needing to disassemble and reassemble it.
  • Industrial Internet of Things (IIOT) temperature sensors can ensure that perishable ingredients are kept consistently at the right temperature – which minimises food loss, as well as increasing safety.
  • Logistics logging tech can track every move a shipment makes until delivery, providing reassurance that it hasn’t been compromised or contaminated.

Changes will continue to roll in. And as 4IR progresses, the technologies it encompasses will help to feed the world’s growing population, ensuring that everyone has access to safe, nutritious food by enabling more efficient and sustainable food production.

Interested in learning more about 4IR and the future of food?

We’ve got you. Come to InFlavour – happening in Riyadh, 29-31 October 2023.

A feast of international F&B experts will share the latest developments in the Fourth Industrial Revolution, cutting edge technologies, and the future of food. You’ll learn how global food industry leaders are adapting to change and thriving with tech. And you’ll connect with new partners who can help bring your food business into the future.

Register now

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