Every industry has its obstacles, and the beverage manufacturing industry is no different. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and changing consumer demands, canned beverage companies are facing new hurdles such as aluminum shortages, a sizeable shift in the workforce and diversifying offerings for customer preferences. These present circumstances make it apparent to the public that the food and beverage industry has room for improvement, especially on the production side of the business.
The Pandemic has Significantly Shifted Consumer Demands and the Supply Chain
Companies are having a hard time keeping their items stocked on store shelves due to consumer demand and sluggish production times. During the pandemic, less disposable income caused consumers to take a second look at the shopping cart before buying. The pandemic significantly shifted consumer purchasing habits, leading to an increase in grocery store purchases and less dining out. To react to these changing habits, businesses have been forced to adjust their internal processes to meet the pandemic restrictions and health concerns, which, in turn, has put a strain on the manufacturing and supply of beverages.
Additionally, many companies currently outsource their beverage manufacturing which means their product goes to multiple facilities before it is ready for retail shelves. For some entrepreneurs, this model saves time and money and gives them the freedom to focus on marketing and sales. For other more established companies, outsourcing allows them to try new filling lines or secondary products. However, this traditional model on top of the challenges the pandemic has presented over the past two years has significantly slowed the procurement of ingredients, production times and timely transportation of beverages to different facilities.
These trends, combined with the business challenges, have made it difficult for beverage companies to keep up with the increased demand for canned drinks. However, Vobev has streamlined the traditional way of making, filling and shipping beverages by putting everything under one roof, cutting lead times by 10 weeks and improving the stocking of products in retail store. This is particularly beneficial for small and medium-sized beverage companies who do not have the resources to establish in-house manufacturing and is more cost and energy-efficient.
Consumers Prefer Brands that Care and have a Sense of Morality
Rising interests to be more health-conscious and eco-friendly have influenced beverage companies to innovate and touch new markets. Eco-friendly materials like aluminum are in high demand but facing demand shortages and supply chain issues.
Nearly 67% of consumers consider it important that the products they buy are in recyclable packaging and consider themselves environmentally aware. Aluminum is one of the most recycled products in the U.S., easier to transport, more eco-friendly, and stores product better. Aluminum stacks to maximize space for transportation and are lightweight due to the thin aluminum can, optimizing packaging and distribution for trucks, which, in turn, reduces gas emissions. In addition to being faster and more efficient to transport, producing beverages under one roof helps reduce the number of trucks on the road and traffic congestion.
In addition to recyclable product, many businesses are looking at how sustainable their processes and procedures are. However, this can be a large and costly investment for established businesses. Businesses must anticipate costs for new equipment, update traditional processes, prepare staff to manage production and so much more.
In addition to supporting brands that care about the environment, consumers have an increased interest in innovative drinks that offer more health benefits. With more people looking for diet-friendly beverages that are vegan, plant-based, dairy-free, etc., the industry has introduced new “functional beverages” that contain vitamins, supplements, protein, probiotics, and other similar ingredients. This movement shows how innovation will be key for a beverage company’s success.
Innovation can be Costly and Difficult for New Beverages
For most companies, testing new product ideas can be difficult. Many outsourced manufacturers require minimum runs, which can increase the financial risk if an idea is unsuccessful. Other hurdles to testing innovations include long waits for production, investment in time for consumer research and meeting standard regulations.
Innovation plays a significant role in creating the perfect product for customers. For Vobev, it was important to include R&D in the manufacturing facility so that any company can experiment with new flavors, packaging and offerings without delay in getting the beverage ready for market.
Despite the recent and ongoing challenges in the beverage canning industry, there are plenty of new opportunities to grow, collaborate and meet the needs of consumers — revolutionizing the way beverage brands make and distribute their product, innovating for the future and changing the way we do business.