By David Dillon, Global Labeling Solutions Executive, Loftware
In the wake of recent challenges, including budgetary pressures, rising energy prices, and supply chain disruptions, cloud technology has emerged as a game-changer for food and beverage manufacturers. It has allowed these companies to streamline their operations, improve efficiency, and gain better insights through data analytics, ultimately leading to increased productivity and competitiveness in the market.
Often overlooked but crucial, labeling plays a vital role in this endeavor, acting as a product’s passport through the supply chain. As such, streamlined label management using cloud-based solutions is essential for connecting warehouses, factories, and distribution centers. Any misstep can lead to shipping delays, compliance issues, and expensive product recalls, not to mention the reputation damage mislabeling can cause, especially within the food and beverage industry.
How cloud technology can deliver safety and quality assurance
For the food and beverage sector, cloud labeling makes it easier to abide by the swathes of current and upcoming regulations governing the industry, including recent changes to FSMA, 21 CFR Part 101, EU 1169, and Natasha’s Law, to name just a few.
One notable benefit of cloud-based solutions is their ability to conduct real-time compliance checks, rapidly identifying any non-compliant elements or label errors. This high level of automation and integration enables manufacturers to swiftly address any compliance gaps, thereby reducing the risk of penalties and ensuring the prompt resolution of consumer safety concerns. Most importantly, this technology enables food and beverage manufacturers to prioritize consumer safety and safeguard customers through accurate and compliant labeling.
In this sense, cloud-based labeling provides manufacturers with the adaptability and agility necessary to navigate a complex regulatory landscape that is constantly changing.
The role of cloud technology in supply chain management
As previously noted by the United Nations, global food requirements are predicted to double by 2050. With this in mind, strong international supply chains will be crucial to meeting this level of demand.
Cloud technology has an important role to play here. By providing real-time visibility, seamless collaboration, and data-driven insights, cloud-based labeling facilitates optimized inventory management, reduced wastage, and more responsive and efficient distribution processes. It’s no surprise that an increasing number of companies are turning to the cloud to solve their supply chain woes. Loftware’s annual report, which surveyed almost 500 professionals across industries in 55 countries, revealed that 50% of businesses already deploy important business applications in the cloud. This compares to just under 40% of companies embracing cloud-first strategies a year ago.
The cloud allows food and beverage manufacturers access to a flexible labeling process that enhances scalability, configurability, standardization, and reliability. It facilitates easier production shifts, accommodates remote workforces, enables device and location independence, and seamlessly extends labeling to new partners and suppliers — all of which enables supply chain continuity.
Beyond these operational benefits, the cloud also offers significant cost-saving opportunities, making enterprise systems accessible to businesses of all sizes, even those with resource constraints. It also reduces staff costs and overall manpower hours while addressing expenses related to hardware and software scaling and updates.
Improving sustainability credentials
Sustainability is a pressing concern for both consumers and manufacturers alike, with Gartner noting that supply chain leaders are looking to source more sustainable ingredients for their food and beverage products. This shift has almost certainly been driven by consumers actively seeking out sustainable food brands and purchasing their goods more frequently.
As pressure mounts on companies across all sectors to green their operations, it’s important to note that manual and inefficient labeling practices can negatively impact the sustainability of supply chains through product recalls and unnecessary waste. In contrast, dynamic and data-driven cloud-based labeling significantly reduces instances of mislabeling, thereby avoiding the need to recall, relabel, or even scrap products. This approach helps companies to align with important environmental goals, making the cloud a go-to solution for companies seeking to improve their ESG credentials.
Furthermore, cloud-based labeling solutions are instrumental in driving product traceability across a food or beverage product’s entire lifecycle. Manufacturers can capture real-time data, ensuring the accuracy of information from sourcing to disposal. By tracing products both upstream and downstream, these intelligent solutions allow food and beverage manufacturers to efficiently adhere to sustainable practices, foster supply chain transparency, and empower their customers to make well-informed choices.
Businesses can’t afford to wait
Cloud-based labeling solutions provide food and beverage companies with the adaptability, compliance, and cost-efficiency necessary to navigate the complex regulatory landscape, meet consumer demands, and drive sustainability across their operations. By embracing these technologies, manufacturers can enhance their competitiveness and ensure their products meet the evolving expectations of both regulators and conscious consumers.
David Dillon is a Global Labeling Solutions Executive at Loftware and specializes in managing global software projects in the food and beverage, apparel, and garment tagging industries. Before joining Loftware, David worked in print and apply automation for a global thermal printer manufacturer.