The year 2020-2021, was one tumultuous year for many industries especially the F&B industry. The pandemic not only brought the vulnerabilities to the forefront but caused many restaurants and food joints to shut shop. The key to such a failure was the lack of resilience in the existing supply chain. Amongst all the industry-specific supply chains, the F&B supply chain is the most challenging as it involves sourcing the raw material and bringing it to the consumer's table either in its innate form or processed form, both the forms having a specific shelf life. So, the question is how did this industry cope up or even better, how did the F&B transform their existing supply chain in the face of a devastating pandemic?

The F&B industry, over the year, struggled to impact policies that govern the supply chain but also burnt midnight oil to improve processes, production capabilities, forecasting, and inventory management. Out of all struggles and innovations, emerged certain business-critical insights that have over the last year become the blueprint for supply chain success in the F&B industry. These trends are:

·        Leveraging Technology and Data Analytics- Over last year, the entire supply chain across the industry verticals came to be driven by digitization and big data. The F&B industry was no exception. As the F&B industry embraced data analytics globally, there was a marked shift from traditional forecasting and inventory management. The data analytics platforms enabled supply chain professionals to gain timely visibility into market insights thereby, enabling them to solidify sales and operations planning.

·        Focusing on Lean Techniques of Inventory Management- The pandemic had ushered in a sudden surge in customer demand for certain products and sudden dips in market demand for others. In such cases, the F&B industry struggled to maintain an inventory that could respond to the market demand and at the same time have minimal wastage. With the focus on creating a lean supply chain roadmap, professionals discovered its effectiveness in terms of elimination of waste, improved flexibility, and endless quality improvements.

·        Managing the SKUs with Agility- One of the greatest challenges that plagued the F&B industry was the management of the products in the face of fluctuating demand and supplies. This fluctuation disrupted production capabilities with the supply chain professionals struggling to focus on producing products that gained traction overnight. One of the best practices was to tightly monitor the SKUs, either trim them or scale them based on the market insights.

The above-mentioned best practices and trends focus on the four critical pillars of the supply chain namely integration, operation, purchasing & procurement, and distribution & logistics. The millennial supply chain is complex and always in a state of flux. To be able to accept disruptions and assimilate all learnings calls for a holistic understanding of the gamut of the supply chain. IIM Calcutta in collaboration with Hughes Education is currently offering Advanced Programme in Supply Chain Management. This course aims to enable supply chain professionals to gain a substantial understanding of the prevalent supply chain ecosystem by mastering analytics, design, and end-to-end inventory management