I’ve known Steve Dombroski, director of consumer markets at QAD, for years. He’s got deep experience in the food and beverage sector, particularly around manufacturing and supply chain. I met him when I was the Editorial Director for Food Logistics and Supply & Demand Chain Executive magazines, during which time the FDA’s Food Safety Modernization Act was implemented (in 2011).
When the concept for VinRoutes started to formally come together last year, we would often compare and contrast the wine sector with the food sector. One notable difference between the two was the adoption of technology.
In general, the wine industry is not one that has embraced technology, with the exception of a few brands. Historically, the food sector was also a laggard in technology adoption. But, FSMA’s implementation unleashed wholesale changes across the industry as growers and manufacturers, to transportation providers and retailers, all moved into a new era of food safety compliance. Likewise, software and technology companies introduced a bevy of innovations targeting the F&B sector. These included software solutions, tracking and monitoring devices, smart packaging, cold chain solutions and more, to assure compliance with FSMA and improve shelf life for a global food supply chain that increasingly desired fresh foods.
The food supply chain was headline news last year. Looking back, I would argue that it responded quite well all things considered. Of course, the wine industry also endured a tremendously difficult year, notwithstanding the global pandemic (as if that wasn’t enough). On top of the Covid-related disruptions in 2020, massive fires throughout the West Coast and retaliatory tariffs on wine imports/exports added to the industry’s pain.
The wine industry stands at an inflection point, and it can glean some lessons from the food sector, which shares commonalities such as: agricultural commodity; dependent on natural resources, particularly water; high exposure to changes in climate and weather events; labor intensive; incentive to be more sustainable; prone to weather and climate change; and impacted by a new generation of consumers who want more transparency and accountability in their brands, especially those that they consume–food and drink.
Therefore, when Steve mentioned recently that winemakers need to think more like manufacturers, the idea struck a chord, which prompted VinRoutes and QAD to collaborate on a webinar with this theme.
This is the New World of Wine that we’re in right now, and it’s not just limited to operations and supply chains, but people, too. Thankfully, there’s a groundswell of focus on diversity, equity and inclusion, and the wine industry is doing real work in these areas.
It’s exciting to be in the midst of so many profound changes.
We hope you’ll join us on April 14 for a discussion entitled, “The Grapes Know What to Do–Do You?”