The Food and Beverage (F&B) Industry is one of the fastest-growing industries in the UAE. With Dubai being the melting pot of a global population that enjoys a worldly taste of things, has high disposable income, luxurious and flamboyant lifestyles in addition to a flourishing tourism sector is fuelling the further growth of this sector. Even though the entire sector faced a major setback during the COVID-19 pandemic, things have quickly returned to normal. Some sections have even witnessed a faster recovery cycle with people revenge shopping, traveling, and dining out. A sector that has seen tremendous growth also faces several challenges that can pose serious questions on how this industry can maintain its momentum. But the way the UAE Government has tackled these setbacks, apart from supporting the growth of several industrial sectors and shipping companies (logistics will play an important role in maintaining the food supply chain), it is no surprise that the F&B industry is also comfortably placed at overcoming these challenges.
The Challenges That Pose Some Serious Questions
The F&B industry is not only the most lucrative sector globally, but it is an extremely competitive one as well. The same is the case in the UAE. With several new players entering the market at a rapid pace, newer trends and sophisticated ideas to attract more customers keep emerging in this industry, giving businesses no time to relax. Additionally, several other challenges to the supply chain management like rising costs, food safety, product traceability, secured supply chain, and a constant need to match up with the evolving technology must be tackled smartly by businesses in this sector to continue seeing the unprecedented growth it is known for. Let’s look at these challenges more closely.
Rising Costs: The need to optimize productivity and cost reduction in the supply chain has never been more evident than right now. A concentration of the grocery retail market and increasing labor cost has posed difficulties like never before. A concentrated retail market also means that fewer retailers are handling the bulk of the load, giving them an upper hand in dictating cost. Consumers are also becoming more cost-conscious preferring bigger supermarkets that provide low-cost products. This is a situation that can potentially wipe out smaller players from the market, giving complete control of the supply chain in the hands of a few big brands.
Secure Supply Chain: To know the risks in the supply chain, food companies must understand and know everyone involved in the production and distribution of the goods. Today’s conscious customer also demands information about where the food items and other products are coming from. This end-to-end visibility will increase efficiency, build trust, lower inventory, and provide transparency to the entire process.
Product Traceability: The UAE government keeps a close eye on all food products – from production to processing and distribution. This is done to ensure that only the best quality products reach the customers, there are minimum chances of contamination and other malpractices. To ensure all this is tracked and managed, food companies must have a plan in place that will enable them to track their orders and the complete supply chain of the food products. This is a huge challenge to implement.
Safety Of Food: The weather and other geographical conditions like the extreme heat and limited arable land make it difficult to produce and store food. The UAE imports a majority of food requirements which poses a greater challenge for the supply chain as food stands to get wasted during cross-border transportation.
Measures To Overcome These Challenges
The challenges might be many, but the UAE government is doing everything in its capacity to streamline the supply chain for the F&B sector. Here are a few measures that can be implemented for better supply chain management.
Efficient Use Of Logistics Sector: The UAE must rely on its flourishing and capable logistics industry that has several players worthy of being entrusted with handling this complex supply chain process. With a global network, world-class infrastructure, and expertise, logistics companies can provide efficient solutions to the supply chain problem of food items.
Government Rules And Regulations: The UAE government has been on its feet when it comes to supporting the F&B industry, especially logistics companies to ensure that the supply chain remains in place and there is minimum wastage of food. Further streamlining of rules and regulations can ensure that there are no loopholes in the processes.
Consumption And Supply: The F&B industry provides ample food options in several variations. These products are in demand in different quantities at different locations and different time zones. This poses a humungous challenge for supply chain management as companies must keep track of the demand and availability. To tackle this situation, companies are using smart devices like shelf sensors, smart bottles, smart labels, and evolving technology to provide satisfactory results to customers.
Forecasting The Demand: Demand forecasting is a solution that can potentially solve the issue of supply chain disruption to a great extent. With so many variables of products available in the marketing and its varying demand requires sophisticated systems to predict demand and supply, and several companies in the UAE are doing just that to ensure that they are able to provide and supply the required products at the right time, to the right customers.
Digitization Of The Industry: Technology has made life easy for the F&B industry where companies are using the Internet of Things and AI to track and locate assets, transport vehicles, and products at a single point in time. Data collection and data analysis have made things more streamlined as companies can keep exact track of things and adjust according to the situation.
The UAE’s strategic geographical location, emerging and robust transportation and logistics companies, and unwavering support from the government are allowing the UAE to overcome the challenges that the F&B industry has hitherto faced. The vast and all-encompassing plans to expand crucial sectors like transportation and shipping companies will further ensure that this sector grows leaps and bounds in the years to come.