Digital technologies are key for UK food and drink industry

According to new research from Accenture, food and drink companies could unlock an estimated £56 billion in value over the next decade by harnessing digital technologies.

The study found that by investing in digital technologies, the food and drink industry could create value worth up to 12% of the industry’s GVA. It is estimated that food and drink could generate over £3 billion in new revenue over ten years and reduce costs by almost £53bn, as well as passing on £2bn in household savings direct to consumers.

Accenture’s analysis used the methodology developed in partnership with the World Economic Forum to understand the value of digital transformation, for both industry and society.

The research identified several ways in which digital technologies can transform the sector and help to deliver the Food and Drink Federation’s 20% industry growth target. Customised manufacturing can enable premium pricing, while data analytics can help to source and develop new product ideas.

Meanwhile, real-time data and robotics can automate the supply chain process to increase efficiency and reduce the contamination of food produce. Combined, digital technologies could increase speed to market and improve product satisfaction by an estimated 25%.

Yen-Sze Soon, managing director at Accenture, says, “Most food and drink companies we work with recognise that digital technologies can drive transformation and growth, but many aren’t yet realising this potential. This research quantifies the potential prize for industry, individuals and society if they get this right.

“The solution is what we call Industry X.0. It’s an action plan for embracing technological change and profiting from it. More than just transforming into digital businesses, food and drink companies must look at how they reinvent operating models, production and value chains.”

Industry X.0 is how Accenture defines the digital reinvention of industry, when businesses use advanced digital technologies to transform their core operations, their worker and customer experiences and ultimately their business models. New levels of efficiency are achieved in the core of R&D, engineering, production and manufacturing through integrated systems, processes, sensors and new intelligence. Worker and customer experiences are redesigned and personalised.

The level of demand for Industry X.0 is revealed in Accenture’s survey of 931 executives from 21 countries. Only 13% of respondents say their businesses are getting both greater efficiency and business growth as a result of their digital investments. 80% want new efficiencies, new growth and new experiences to be delivered all at the same time, and 64% agree that failure to leverage the components of digital value will cause them to struggle for survival in the future.

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