The current pandemic has spurred food producers to find better ways of keeping up with the demand created by shortages or food plant shutdowns. The technological advancements needed to stay relevant during COVID-19 have opened up new opportunities for the food and drink industry.
One of the major jumps in the food industry has been online sales, which have grown to $20 billion dollars over the last year. The prediction is that there will be a spike this year due to the quarantine. There are even more involved forms of grocery shopping taking precedence over physically picking up groceries, like using virtual reality headsets to walk through a supermarket.
In addition to using new forms of tech to shop, shopping habits have also changed to suit the current climate. Online shopping has seen a dramatic increase in use during the last few months. On the other hand, the amount of visits people make to physical store locations is decreasing, most likely in observance of social distancing practices. However, the move to online shopping has created even more issues, like online waiting queues and longer delivery windows for available delivery slots.
Another food production boom has occurred in niche markets. One particular market that has increased is the meal kit industry. Pre-made meals have grown in popularity due to the increase in home cooking fatigue. But with that also coming another problem: shipping. Outside of individual providers and their availability, shipping companies have also been experiencing issues in getting packages to consumers on time.
With the amount of problems cropping up in the face of the current pandemic, there are some solutions that could stick around even when things eventually get back to normal. The use of drones (which have been predicted and attempted for a while now) has been suggested to alleviate the pressures of having people deliver packages during times like these. As mentioned before, the use of VR has also been suggested to keep people home when needed.
In order to lessen the amount of human contact is made in a store, more self-checkout stations can be implemented to speed up the process and keep employees safe at work. Other ideas include the production of plant-based and lab-grown meat products to offset farms and meatpacking factories that have been affected by the pandemic.
Even with the number of new ideas that could help during the pandemic, putting them into practice can prove problematic at the same time. However, innovative ideas could prove helpful even after the pandemic dies down.