Changing Food Manufacturing Practices to Meet Millennial Consumer Demand

Robert Brice
Thu, Aug 20, 2015
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Food manufacturers are seeking natural ingredients.

Consumers have become more health-conscious and now increasingly demand foods and beverages with natural ingredients. This new trend has benefited craft manufacturers and local food producers.

Larger food manufacturers, however, have to create products that are shipped over huge distances and stored for long periods. The preservatives and chemicals in their products have made them unpopular with modern audiences. Corporations are now looking for healthier food manufacturing options. Mobile data collection tools have assisted companies in changing their operations in response to customer demand.

The Millennial Consumer Group
Millennials are fast becoming the primary U.S. customer group. Consumer Affairs reported millennials now outnumber baby boomers. The increased number of millennial shoppers has caused numerous businesses to refocus their marketing strategies and manufacturing practices.

Health is a primary concern for millennials. The group tends to favor all-natural ingredients and will shun products that are bad for the environment or contain chemical preservatives. This can prove quite costly to food manufacturers, as natural ingredients are more expensive than other options.

Younger consumer groups also like information. Millennials want to know where food comes from, how it's made and what it contains. They need product packaging that provides nutrition information and food origins. Mobile devices and computers are used to research companies and learn about their processes. To appease customer demands, businesses need to extend data transparency.

Companies Adjusting
Frozen food producer Nestle is an example of a company that has to adjust manufacturing processes to appease millennial consumers.

Products like frozen pizzas and cocoa powder use artificial preservatives, colors and flavors. Local shoppers avoid these ingredients and seek products that are manufactured using more natural options. The Financial Times reported Nestle is working on new manufacturing solutions, such as using germinated cereal grains in its recipes in place of artificial flavoring. Eat This, Not That!, stated Nestle is also looking to reduce the amount of salt used in its snack foods and frozen products. The company has declared these changes should take effect by the beginning of 2016.

Changing ingredients to meet public demand means businesses have to completely alter their manufacturing processes. They have to find a way to replace cheap artificial ingredients with popular natural ones. Once the changes have taken effect, they have to promote their new products and sourcing methods.

Data Collection Solutions
A manufacturing software system can facilitate production changes. Data collection from current manufacturing processes gives companies complete visibility of which aspects need changing. It reduces the frequency of mistakes in an already costly process.

Data reporting creates information that should be shared with the consumer. The business has nothing to hide if products meeting millennial standards are created. RFgen​'s "Food Traceability Survival Guide" white paper states that mobile data collection tools allow information about raw ingredients and finished products to be shared in a single database. If the business chooses to do so, it can make that data available to the public. Customers can receive all the knowledge they require from beginning to end.

Mobile Data Collection Equipment
Mobile devices ensure the information being collected is accurate and timely. Manufacturing workers can utilize barcode scanners, smartphone, tablets or voice options to perform data collection straight from the heart of production readjustments. Managers gain insight into changing processes as they happen, as opposed to waiting for progress reports. 

Real-time solutions can also create projections. Companies like Nestle have a time frame they need to hit to meet customer demand. A software system that integrates the manufacturing floor, warehouse and financial department creates a holistic infrastructure. Each department can report its needs and expectations to create a realistic timetable. Every section of the company is aware of where it should be on the schedule and can report discrepancies, so it's essential the employees actually producing the merchandise can submit to and view the information.

In addition, suggested companies should integrate ERP solutions with CRM software. The customer information captured by CRM tools gives food manufacturers insight into the performance of new products. As changes are made, immediate consumer feedback is used to create further adjustments or track the success of the new direction. The details from customer feedback can be fed into a mobile manufacturing system to create new standards for production. The mobile manufacturing tools can give warning when products don't meet the high standards determined by consumers. A software provider can help companies create a system that integrates all of its mobile software.

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