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IoT for Food Manufacturing: Beyond Food Safety to Savvy Marketing


October 16, 2015 - 0 Comments

Recently, Cisco announced a very cool partnership with pasta maker and Italian foods provider Barilla Foods, ‘From the ground to the grocer, Barilla makes use of Cisco’s IoE to give consumers insight into the journey of their food’.   This partnership is the result of working together across the food industry as well as Barilla’s vision to provide more transparency and visibility to their customers. In this age of well-publicized food contamination, fraud and other issues, the Internet of Things (IoT) can truly be a key enabler for strategic-thinking food, beverage and consumer packaged goods (CPG) companies. In addition, as Nic Villa writes in his blog The Internet of Food – Improving Lives, the “Bringing the Internet of Everything to life in the food sector makes our lives healthier and our choices easier. This new digital revolution merges technology, sustainability and well-being…”

The power of what Barilla is implementing is incredible for a few different reasons. Let me explain. Beyond just food safety, it is a savvy marketing strategy.   Barilla can now improve their marketing to highlight the information that the millenials want – where did food come from, what did it go thru and were there any issues? This cool video from Barilla’s Parma, Italy factory shows the amazing processes that happen in the factory just to produce pasta:

Track and Trace Opportunities to Meet Regulatory Requirements

With track and trace technology, many customers will have the information at their fingertips as to where their food came from. Manufacturers can not only use this information for regulatory compliance but can now also add the information to enhance their marketing efforts. What I predict we will see is that food manufacturers really start to improve the business capabilities and take advantage of marketing opportunities that were not there before.

Recently, I spoke with a few customers that use a standalone single person database to aggregate the information and react in case of any recalls or issues that may occur.  The issue with this is that it is another silo of information that exists, is typical single person managed and was home grown.  One customer even admitted that this is a HUGE single point of failure in their operations – if that person left, few people understand the data and what is going on with it.  Taking this information and pushing it into a cloud-based analytics and automation platform will eliminate the single point of failure and drive new business opportunities as outlined above.

When working with these customers to migrate them from an in-house offering to an off the shelf offering that can be managed for them,, the cost benefits start to drive even more benefits for these customers.  Instead of struggling to make reports for regulatory bodies they can now quickly access the data in close to real time and meet regulatory guidelines and also use the same information to potentially head off issues that may be occurring.

One thing to keep in mind that this is not limited to the food industry but every industry that makes end user products should have a track and trace capability.  Not every industry has the regulatory issues, but they do have customers that would use their products if this was an offer they could see and use.  Who would not want to understand where their phone was made, the factory it was in and the conditions it was built in? How about the viability to see this for your automobile – and maybe even see a video of your vehicle as it moves across your manufacturing facility?   Wouldn’t it give you a level of comfort to know?

Let me know what you think. Thanks for reading.



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