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How the Beverage Industry Levels Up

The non-alcoholic beverage industry is often described as “consumer facing.” What this means is that our member companies anticipate and execute based on what existing and future consumers want in their beverages. The secret ingredient in this requires a mixture of product innovation, operational efficiency and strong customer service at every level.

 

So how does an industry with strong performance in all these sectors level up? Food and beverage experts see artificial intelligence (AI) as a driver of significant change. And according to Rabobank, a self-described “worldwide financial warehouse” interested in sustainable development committed to livable communities, AI may be the most “fundamental enabler of change” in the industry.

 

Rabobank analysts posit that AI could drive product development, particularly with functional food and beverages. More focus on wellness has created higher demand for beverages that not only taste good but can deliver good things too. The function in functional drinks could be protein, probiotics or fiber. AI can analyze new ingredients, consumer tastes and emerging health data to suggest new products. And sometimes AI generated products can just be fun. A recent example of this was Coca-Cola’s Y3000 limited edition.

 

This constant product innovation adds challenges to operational execution. AI could play a bigger role in optimizing production planning and quality control. While no AI can replace skilled labor willing to cross-train in multiple production positions, it could help with supply chain management and supplier negotiations, according to Rabobank. Our facility directors keep abreast of technology to assist their workforce, carefully navigating optimal performance as more products and package sizes are introduced. Our industry remains a blend of tech-savvy and mechanical aptitude to get things done.

 

And finally, the sweet spot for the beverage industry is and will remain customer service. While AI could deploy a few chatbots to help with delivery requests or ordering, our member companies continue to invest in their human workforce. Ohio’s over 12,000 beverage industry employees know their communities and customers. And their care and attention to detail may be informed by the latest technology but that level of service depends on human connection.



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