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The Future of Food Logistics: Thought Leaders Weigh In on the Transformative Impact of Supply Chain Technology

May 15, 2024

May 16, 2024

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Digital technology is transforming food logistics—and reshaping how we manage and monitor shipments across sprawling supply chains.

Tive and Food Shippers of America dove right in to discover firsthand how these changes are unfolding. Engaging with over 100 supply chain professionals and industry leaders, we gathered in-depth insights on the real-world impact of this technology. We’ve compiled these findings into a compelling new report titled "Food Shippers Guide to Supply Chain Digital Transformation.” Read on for a sneak peek of the key findings.  

Emerging Challenges in Food Logistics

The food logistics sector faces significant challenges that threaten the stability and efficiency of supply chains worldwide. From unpredictable weather patterns to the escalating threat of cargo theft, these issues demand innovative solutions and strategic foresight.

Supply Chain Disruptions & Cost Volatility

Weather events and global supply chain interruptions have become more than occasional obstacles; they have morphed into persistent threats that disrupt operations and inflate costs (according to survey data, 19.5% of industry professionals view these disruptions as their primary challenge). For example, adverse weather conditions—such as heatwaves, wildfires, and droughts—ravage agricultural outputs, leading to shortages and logistical nightmares. Italy, Chile, and Columbia—traditionally robust agricultural producers—have suffered considerable losses, impacting global food supply chains. Similarly, India's drought has severely depleted its wheat reserves, forcing it to consider significant wheat imports to stabilize domestic supplies.  

The Rise in Cargo Theft & Fraud

Cargo theft has surged by an alarming 63% this year, emphasizing an urgent need for enhanced security measures within the food logistics sector. Thefts are particularly prevalent in regions bustling with agricultural activities, such as the Midwest, California, and the Southeast of the United States. The simplicity of reselling stolen food and beverage products makes them attractive targets for criminals. In response, more companies are turning to advanced tracking technologies to monitor their shipments more closely. Real-time tracking doesn't just locate a truck or container; it provides a layer of security that traditional methods simply can't match. By understanding the exact location and condition of goods at all times, companies can preempt potential thefts—and quickly react if something goes awry. Moreover, these technologies play a crucial role in insurance and risk management, increasingly seen as indispensable in the modern logistics toolkit.

Strategic Technological Investments

Among companies managing food supply chains, strategic investments in technology are driven not only by the need to address current challenges but also to protect future operations.  Survey results revealed the key areas in which food supply chain leaders are investing as part of their digital transformation initiatives.

Supply Chain/Shipment Visibility

According to the survey results, shipment visibility is now the #1 reported area of digital transformation investments for food shippers. In fact, 75% of respondents reported that they are currently investing in new technology to drive improvement in this area. This echoes findings from the State of Visibility 2024 Report, which revealed that 78% of those surveyed are either already using or planning to use IoT-based tracking systems within the next year.

Transportation and Warehouse Management

Food companies are facing pressure from market conditions to improve the speed and efficiency of their transportation systems. As a result, around 71% of these companies are investing in new technologies to enhance their transportation setup. Additionally, 42% are also focusing on digitizing their inventory and warehouse management to streamline their operations.

Benefits of Real-Time Visibility

Finally, the report uncovered the tangible benefits of real-time visibility in food logistics. From shippers to end consumers, here are the top advantages according to industry thought leaders:

  • End-customer satisfaction: 73% of survey participants pinpointed enhanced customer satisfaction as a primary benefit. With real-time visibility, companies can provide accurate delivery estimates and rapid responses to issues, boosting consumer trust and satisfaction.
  • Reduction in shipment delays and associated fees: 64% highlight the reduction of delays and the associated fees as a significant advantage. Real-time tracking allows companies to anticipate and mitigate delays, ensuring that goods arrive on time and reducing costly penalties for late deliveries.
  • Decreased risk and enhanced security: 56% of respondents find that real-time visibility technology is essential for reducing theft risks—and enhancing shipment security. Knowing a shipment's location and status can help prevent both theft and loss.
  • Improved overall supply chain visibility: Valued by 50% of industry insiders as the key benefit, enhanced visibility across all transportation modes enables companies to optimize operations, foresee potential issues, and quickly make informed decisions.
  • Support for traceability and food safety initiatives: 49% of participants appreciate how real-time technology supports traceability and food safety efforts. It enables businesses to track the conditions and journey of food products, ensuring compliance with health regulations and quality standards.

A Bright Future: The Final Take on Technology's Role in Food Logistics

This post has only scratched the surface of the complete insights from the "Food Shippers Guide to Supply Chain Digital Transformation" report. We won't give away the keys to the kingdom just yet, but what we can tell you is when you dive into it, you’ll better understand not just the challenges facing food supply chain professionals—but also the pivotal technological strides to solve them. We are entering a future where digital transformation optimizes supply chains, fundamentally altering them for the better. Industry leaders in the report illustrate how these technologies manifest in the real world, bringing about efficiencies and improvements that impact everything from farm to table.  

Tive, a leader in this technological revolution, offers solutions to enhance every aspect of food logistics. From the advanced Solo 5G trackers that provide real-time location and condition monitoring to the Tive Tag—a paper-thin temperature logger ideal for perishable shipments—Tive helps meet your logistics needs with precision and reliability. An intuitive cloud platform and 24/7 Live Monitoring Team guarantee that your shipments are tracked and managed diligently.

For more insights, read the full report here and contact Tive to learn more.

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