There can be little doubt that the economic aftershock of the COVID-19 pandemic will be felt for some time. The food and beverage industry, not including breweries, may largely have escaped the threat of temporary shutdown, yet a midterm economic slowdown will affect consumption.
In countries such as India, food supply chains have been greatly disrupted. Patterns of supply and demand everywhere are certainly being affected in the short term, and some of these may turn out to be permanent. The industry will be reshaped in the medium- to long-term. Commentators are calling these permanent changes the “new normal” – a phrase coined after the 2008 financial crisis and revived in the current situation. This means food and beverage businesses will still have to seek enhanced operating agility, flexibility and efficiency. No
matter whether it’s through replacement or retrofit, expert commentators say automation, digitalization and a variety of other technology and machinery investments enable these qualities. In an industry where SMEs are in the vast majority and provide two-thirds of jobs in the sector, 74% have already invested in improving production processes through digital technologies.
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