Food Industry 3.0

businessman looking out the window freeIn the digital age, they that own the data own the customer.

And the innovation.

And the growth.

And the first-mover advantage.

Unlucky manufacturers are still inserting millions of dollars and resources into the vast value-trapping black hole between themselves and buyers. Data about shifting user preferences is not readily available or if so, shared late and at significant additional cost.

Little about this data is predictive. Brand access to consumers and users is tightly controlled by intermediaries. Supplier innovation remains a shot in the dark.

But recently, we read headlines such as Kroger and Whole Foods’ possible interest in acquiring Blue Apron.

ConAgra’s and Campbell’s alliance with Peapod.

Tyson’s alliance with Amazon.

Obvious growth opportunities with recurring revenue in new channels, yes.

But the bigger advantage is overlooked, and it’s this:

Granular data derived from these big data alliances can transform manufacturers business models and restore their ownership of the customer.

Consider: It was Google that confirmed the rise in consumer interest in functional foods—not one of the industry’s common research companies. Google queried food category search data from January 2014 to February 2016 and spotted early risers and fast decliners signaling shifts in consumer wants and behaviors.

Amazon, Blue Apron, Peapod and a growing number of others like them are not just online product sellers. They are big data companies.

Tyson’s new home meal kit alliance with Amazon provides insights into purchasing patterns by consumer type and early trends to innovate upon.

Wait. There’s more.

Tyson can also use granular data to zero in on new investment opportunities, to extend insights to other channels, employ better inventory controls, implement manufacturing 4.0 processes and create personalized experiences with their brands that everyone talks about but few know how to deliver.

If Kroger or Whole Foods acquires Blue Apron, the benefits of analyzing consumer behavior from that source include brick & mortar tailoring offerings in a local, more personalized way.

Whether these companies have caught on to the real advantages of their new alliances is unknown.

Looking ahead, we see manufacturers developing and rolling out new products that are customized to local tastes and preferences—even neighborhood hot-spots. No more sweeping the US market to gain as many points of distribution as possible. Redesigned business and operating models become almost no-brainers.


The practice of inserting millions in trade spending and sheltered income into a system that offers no value to users and consumers and no reciprocating benefits to manufacturers becomes obsolete.

Trends such as those published by industry research companies will prove generic and incomplete.

The usual business performance metrics get tossed out.

Predictive modeling of demand prevails.

Food Industry 3.0 arrives.

In the digital age, they that own the data, own the customer.

They own the world.


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