The pandemic has impacted individual companies and industries very differently. Restaurants have been closed, while grocery stores have been overwhelmed with demand. Those who have capitalized on the opportunity by expanding their e-commerce have shifted into high gear, with revenue growth to match.

To discuss some of the opportunities and challenges facing the grocery industry, Forrester hosted the webinar series, Where The Grocery Industry Goes Next. The event started with an overview of the changing grocery shopper and went on to address topics such as endless aisles and online grocery, computer vision and inventory robotics, dark stores and the last mile, customer loyalty, and personalization. The timing was perfect for me, as I had just completed my new report, “Apply The Food Industry’s Recipe For Success To Your Own Insights-Driven Transformation.”

As a side note, the best part of the project has been examining how deeply ingrained food is in our culture, and our language. We talk in terms of food. And I certainly had fun peppering references like “ripe for transformation” and “recipe for success” throughout the report that had been “on my plate” for quite some time — yet often ending up “on the back burner.” Had I “bitten off more than I could chew?” Fortunately, I hadn’t. [Jennifer’s research director excised most of the groan-worthy puns from the final document, so she’s jammed them all into this blog instead. — Ed.]

The report takes a holistic view of the industry, which is “past its expiry date.” Shifting consumer preferences, climate change, overproduction, and unsustainable levels of waste add up to a food system ripe for radical transformation.

Data Insights: A New Critical Ingredient

On a positive note, leaders at firms in every stage — from farm to fork, from shore to store — are using new tools and data sources to optimize their businesses with insights. The pandemic has accelerated the trend toward innovation with insights. The report investigates the innovative, insights-driven practices across all stages of the food system and recommends ways data and analytics leaders can collaborate with their peers to apply those successes to their businesses.

In an upcoming webinar, Follow The Food Industry’s Recipe For Insights-Driven Transformation, I will present the findings of the report and will discuss predictions for what they might mean for the future. Will drones change the economics of food delivery? Will consumers crave real or lab-grown meat? Will “food designer” become a hot new job where experts apply insights to create personalized proteins? Will nutritional facts come straight from the horse’s mouth?

Read the report, sign up for the webinar, and if you have an obscure food idiom to share, please let me know. I’ve already captured the low-hanging fruit.