The global food and grocery retail market will reach $14.6 trillion by 2026, with online grocery revenues set to surpass $1 trillion by 2026. But empty shelves, growing food prices and labor shortages have highlighted the fragility of global supply chains. That’s why suppliers, distributors and retailers are turning to digital transformations to cater to a rapidly growing market for end-to-end visibility and operational efficiency, according to research from ABI Research.
In fact, the warehouse management software (WMS) industry in the cold food chain will reach $975.2 million globally by 2026.
“Technology adoption in the food industry has notoriously been low compared to other industries due to the razor-thin margins on food products and the challenge in managing products of different shelf lives and condition requirements. However, it is these very challenges that wide-scale digital transformations can help overcome, as well as help to ensure long-term price competitiveness and consistency in product availability. Accessible and scalable solutions are necessary for companies at each stage of the supply chain to thrive in such a fast-paced market,” says Ryan Wiggin, supply chain management and logistics industry analyst at ABI Research.
From ABI Research:
- Enabled traceability via the Internet of Things (IoT) data-fueled software solutions, such as WMS and supply chain control towers, are becoming increasingly adaptable.
- From a hardware angle, handheld devices, mobile computers and interactive kiosks are facilitating retailers' move into omnichannel offerings.
- And item picking solutions from robotics firms are helping to automate end-of-line operations to support micro-fulfillment and online order picking. Broader deployments of autonomous mobile robots (AMRs) and automated storage and retrieval systems (AS/RS) in warehouses continue to grow.
“Growing operational pressures and incoming regulation such as FSMA Rule 204 will drive investment, but collaborative strategies and upskilling will be necessary to smooth adoption. Food companies must identify current pain points and establish phased digital transformation plans. Technology vendors need to facilitate step approaches to adoption with continued engagement to ensure technology dispersal in the food industry is equitable and widespread,” adds Wiggin.