Growing Awareness Towards Food Safety: An Overview, B2B & B2C

Thiru holds a PGDM in Finance and Operations from the prestigious IIM Kozhikode. Prior to starting Ninjacart, Thiru has worked with ABB, Axis Bank, Aavishkar & Taxi For Sure in varying capabilities. Thiru is also a serial entrepreneur, having founded EduRaft (Education Classifieds startup) and Shout App (Location-based social network app) earlier.

The food industry has been very strict with the setting and meeting of benchmarks, as consumables directly affect the well-being of individuals. Especially in the wake of recent events, there has been a rise in the health consciousness amongst consumers. This new trend is urging producers to not only offer safe food items but also to provide their buyers with all details pertaining to the product.Right from production, packaging, handling, storage to delivery, every step needs to be secure and transparent for any brand to thrive in today's market. The food industry adopts a widened approach concerning food safety and control. Under its umbrella lies ­
• Safety (setting quality standards, procedures and practices);
• Nutrition (maintenance of nutrient levels in food items and provision of offerings that contribute to a healthy diet);
• Quality (presence of sensory attributes such as taste, aroma, appearance amongst others); and
• Value (providing consumer utility and economic advantage by focusing on factors, such as convenience, packaging and shelf-life).

The new-age buyers are well-aware of the options available in the market today and prefer only those products which are considered safe

The new-age buyers are well-aware of the options available in the market today and prefer only those products which are considered safe. The more transparent the journey of food items from the farm to one's plate, the greater are its chances of being widely accepted by the modern consumer base. Transparency and traceability have attained paramount importance in this industry.

With this growing awareness and demand for healthy offerings, producers are making relentless attempts to make their products 100 percent safe. In this pursuit, the various technological disruptions and the availability of vast data have emerged as game-changers. Here are some ways in which businesses are employing these tools to achieve their food safety goals ­

AI and advanced robotics
These two tools, when made to work together with each other, lead to enhanced efficiency, improved quality and streamlined operations. The food industry is labour intensive. When AI-backed robots operate alongside manual labour, it results in faster output generation at reduced costs. In addition, they assist in maintaining the safety of workers and ensuring reliable quality. For instance, using robots for slicing more challenging cuts of meat reduces factory injuries, boosts consistency, and matches standards within a short period.

Smart farming
Alternatively known as precision farming, this method of cultivation has been crucial in the modernisation of the agricultural sector. It entails technology-enabled techniques to enhance product quality and quantity. These practices assure optimum resource utilisation and minimisation of environmental impact. For instance, drones are used to monitor large chunks of land; sensors are installed to check the health of soil and crop at different regions of the farm, and automated systems are applied to supplement the fields with necessary nutrients in the apt quantity to avoid over as well as under fertilisation.

Constant monitoring
The most significant rule of cultivation is to keep a check on the growth of the crops. One cannot simply sow the seeds and wait for a bumper harvest; care needs to be taken. It should also be noted that varying areas of the same land have different requirements. Sensor monitors provide producers with precise information about the plant health, which can aid in making timely decisions regarding irrigation, fertilisation, and pest control.

Usage of data
It is not only essential to produce high-quality goods, but it is equally necessary to focus on how the commodities reach the end-user, to achieve absolute food safety. Food service providers adhere to strict practices, ensuring that the offerings do not get spoiled and only healthy to consume items reach the plates of consumers. By using data analytics and Artificial Intelligence, these suppliers can redesign their processes to make them increasingly consumer-centric and risk-free. It also allows them to include traceability with ease. The increased availability of information, facilitates buyers to make informed decisions.

The growing awareness amongst consumers has made it necessary for producers and suppliers across the board to make their procedures increasingly transparent, safe and secure. Further, initiatives taken by the government to familiarise individuals with the importance of food hygienic has worked wondrously towards the reduction of foodborne diseases and an overall improvement in the health of individuals.