World exports of agricultural products continue to increase. While the United States remains the top exporter of food products across the globe, according to the USDA, Brazil's beef industry accounts for close to 20% of global exports, and is estimated to reach 23% of the world’s total beef exports by 2028. Trade between developing economies has also continued to rise, with food representing more than half of total exports.
As food processors continue to expand geographically, there are both challenges and opportunities that companies need to address.
Food safety across borders
Every day, food companies are expected to produce safe, high-quality food while balancing government and industry regulations that have become critical to success. Food safety activities must be implemented along each stage of the food supply chain, from farm to table.
Regions like Europe and North America are known for having heavily standardized food regulations. In recent years, there has also been a move toward the harmonization of food regulations in Asia and Latin America. These regulations illustrate the food industry's move to increase standardization. As food export grows across borders, companies need to build a supply chain that can be agile and flexible enough to respond to economic changes and even unforeseen events that can cause disruption.
With an increase in miles traveled, shelf-life extension has become important for processors, retailers, and consumers alike, making the use of the right protective packaging an essential piece of the puzzle. Vacuum packaging creates a skin-tight seal that serves as a second skin for a wide variety of food products.
Processors and retailers are already losing money along the supply chain. According to the FAO, 20% of meat produced globally is lost or wasted each year, adding up to the equivalent of 75 million cows. The right type of vacuum packaging helps preserve products in their freshest state, preventing oxidation and naturally extending shelf life through the value chain, aiding in minimizing food loss and food safety risks.
IoT technology in a global economy
It’s no secret that technology has revolutionized the way we do business — and continues to do so. Blockchain technology has made its way into the food industry. Not only has blockchain been used to increase transparency along the supply chain for the consumers’ benefit, but it has also been a tool for the food industry to share data among themselves.
Information on regulatory requirements, data on residues and more can be shared with decision-makers, implementers, and processors. Brazil, who exports poultry and beef to more than 150 countries, can use this data as a preventative measure for food safety risks, enabling the entire food chain to respond quickly and efficiently.
Global companies like Walmart are investing in blockchain technology to help distribute a safer food supply around the globe. Walmart, IBM, JD.com and Tsinghua University National Engineering Laboratory for e-commerce technologies recently formed the Blockchain Food Safety Alliance in 2017, which aims to “create a standards-based method of collecting data about the origin, safety and authenticity of food using blockchain technology to provide traceability in the supply chain.” Many companies are seeing the value and are making investments in blockchain and other knowledge-based services. And when unforeseen disruptions hit the market, such as the current COVID-19 pandemic, automation reduces the risks of a workforce that is struggling with the impact of widespread illness while also reducing the risk of contamination.
As globalization continues to shape our food supply chain, the need to export food will only grow. Understanding and complying to regulations for different countries, protecting food with durable packaging and investing in blockchain technology are critical for responding to this demand.