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  November 11th, 2022 | Written by

The Food Supply Industry is being held back by Supply Chain Difficulties

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The results of a survey of more than 115 industry leaders were released today by FourKites, a leading supply chain visibility company, and Food Shippers of America (FSA), an industry non-profit association that brings together a community of supply chain, transportation, and logistics professionals. The findings of the survey shed light on the most pressing logistics challenges in the Food & Beverage (F&B) industry, as well as the impact of ongoing economic, geopolitical, and supply chain disruptions.

According to the findings, the three most significant challenges confronting the food shipping industry are:

  • Management of labor and talent (49%)
  • Problems with transportation capacity (39%)
  • Disruptions in supply and demand planning (35%)

According to the survey results, supply and demand planning, product availability, and warehousing issues were more likely to plague enterprise companies with sales of $1 billion or more.

While these were also top concerns for smaller food and beverage shippers with less than $500 million in sales, those firms were more likely than their larger counterparts to cite store operations and transportation rates as the main challenges.

Shippers reported that COVID-19’s impact on labor (56%), over-the-road capacity constraints (44%), port delays and congestion (30%), and changes in consumer behavior or buying patterns (22%), among other things, have all disrupted operations and created or exacerbated today’s challenges. In fact, more than 30% of respondents have seen a drop in customer loyalty since the pandemic began, and 55% have seen a sales decline or miss due to product shortages. Enterprise companies were hit the hardest financially, with more than 65% reporting losses.

Looking ahead, a sizable majority of businesses (75%) are “concerned” or “very concerned” that rising inflation and geopolitical uncertainty will harm sales in the fourth quarter of 2022.

According to the most recent FourKites data, the 28-day average F&B shipping volume is down 1% year over year, while shipments in all other industries are down nearly 10%. Meanwhile, the 28-day average percentage of delayed F&B deliveries has remained stable this year, hovering around 27.5%.

“Food and beverage shippers have had a lot to contend with recently, as the industry has been more affected by product and material shortages than most, and for goods that are in demand all year,” Glenn Koepke, FourKites General Manager of Network Collaboration, said.”Companies that have relied heavily on technology and collaboration to identify and address issues before they snowball into major events have fared the best in navigating supply chain disruptions.”When asked how they plan to future-proof their supply chain, respondents frequently mentioned technology and automation. “We are continuing to invest in technology to help us manage fuel, assets, and drivers’ utility,” said one survey respondent.

“If we’ve learned anything over the past couple of years, it’s that disruption is going to be continuous, and we need to have visibility throughout our supply chain,” said Melissa Wreath, Senior Director of Account Management at ArrowStream, a foodservice supply chain technology that helps clients improve supply chain management efficiency, strategic sourcing programs,

Food quality and safety. “FourKites enables us to have a real-time understanding of where things are across the entire network.” Without it, you’re always playing catch-up.”

F&B executives continue to rely on FourKites for end-to-end supply chain visibility, with the company seeing a 25% increase in total food and beverage shipper customers over the last year. Over the same time period, the total number of F&B shipments tracked by FourKites increased by nearly 50%. The company now serves over 1,100 of the world’s most recognized brands, including 18 of the top-20 F&B companies, including Coca-Cola Consolidated, Conagra, Boston Beer Company, Organic Valley, Constellation Brands, Nestlé, General Mills, Tyson Foods, Kraft Heinz, US Foods, Smithfield, Land O’Lakes and Cargill.

FourKites has been recognized for its ability to solve the pain points of enterprise customers, with a well-known track record in the F&B space. Earlier this year, FourKites was named a Leader in Gartner’s Magic Quadrant for Real-time Transportation Visibility Platforms for its ability to execute, and with the highest completeness of vision. FourKites also scored the highest for Fortune 500 businesses with complex needs, according to Gartner’s Critical Capabilities for Real-Time Transportation Visibility Platforms report. The company was also named to the 2022 “Top Food Chain Technology” list, a program that recognizes standout technologies in food transportation, logistics, distribution and supply chain management, according to Food Chain Digest and was identified as a Top Green Provider by Food Logistics.