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With food security on the table, don’t waste this opportunity
By Michael Woodruff

Between a global pandemic, threats of cataclysmic climate change, skyrocketing energy costs and conflict in eastern Europe (perhaps all inextricably linked), the serious subject of food security has roared back into Australia’s public consciousness with a force not seen in generations.

For a country used to having abundant food when and where they want it, whether in-season or out of season, the persistent sight of empty supermarket shelves prompts unsettling questions about the resilience of our supply chains - from the ability of farmers to grow the raw commodity in a climate-changed world, to turning that material into consumer-ready products and getting them delivered at a time of acute labour shortages and rising electricity, gas and fuel prices.

While it is human to dwell on the threats, it is also well-advised to look at the opportunities. Bearing in mind all of the above, the first switch to flick is our attitude to change and disruption. For a start, forget any kind of return to ‘business as usual’. And while you’re at it, also ditch the concept of the ‘new normal’, whatever that is.

In an age of disruption, which some may argue is closer to upheaval, it is those who embrace adaptability and agility in the face of adversity, uncertainty and ambiguity who will be rewarded. The problems confronting our food supply industries and other manufacturers are well documented. It is more instructive to see how businesses are responding. 

The Reserve Bank of Australia conducted a survey last year of how businesses were adapting to their radically changed environment. In order of priority, most respondents said they would be changing their ordering processes, followed by changes to the way products are offered, changes in suppliers, changes to the type and range of products sold, increasing suppliers and prices, and changing operational processes and modes of freight. 

That is a lot of change. It is also reflected in a survey of top executives that Ernst & Young (EY) conducted in the US in late 2020 to gauge how they would prepare for a now irrevocably changed future. The survey found that enterprises in the US plan to shake up their operations to become more resilient, collaborative, and networked with customers, suppliers, and other stakeholders.  

To do that, they will increase investment in technologies like AI, (artificial intelligence), IoT and robotic process automation while retraining workers. 

A report compiled on the survey notes:  

“Often in uncertain economic environments, companies slow their technology investments to a trickle. But during the Covid-19 pandemic, 92 per cent did not halt technology investments. This speaks to the value of a digital supply chain in helping enterprises navigate disruptive forces and respond faster to volatile supply and demand.” 

Sixty-four per cent of respondents in the same survey said digital transformation would accelerate due to the pandemic, with “data surveillance tools”, devices that measure the continuous performance of machines and systems, to be the norm and not the exception, by 2025. The race is on for “digital enablement and automation,” according to the report’s author. 

In troubling times, it is easy to feel powerless and ineffectual when your business and your products are being buffeted by seismic world events. But just as our surveyed US executives have grasped, your quickest route to stabilising and growing your operation in the face of adversity is to take command of the new digital tools that will give you control. 

With control comes calm and the confidence to make fully formed, considered decisions, while recognising changed circumstances demand a different response and a departure from the old ways of working. There are many Australian food and beverage manufacturers now working with mQ Intelligence and its suite of digital tools to gain acute insights on how their factories are performing.

While they appreciate the old maxim ‘if you don’t measure it, you won’t manage it’, these managers also understand that stakeholders, including their customers, will take a dim view of inefficient plants that waste food and energy and emit loads of unnecessary carbon.

Earlier I said that food suppliers need to be adaptable and agile in this changed and disrupted world. They also need to be accountable. In an increasingly interconnected global community, driven by social media, the new consumer will demand higher benchmarks of transparency, seeking openness about how we operate. The technology provided by mQ Intelligence allows for that level of detail and verification. That gives comfort to your consumer, but just as importantly, gives peace-of-mind to you.

If you’d like to know more about how your factory can meet the needs of today and tomorrow, then contact
Michael Woodruff on 

Article referenced: 
mQ Intelligence