10 Food & Beverage Supply Chain Trends for 2024

Supply Chain|Blogs
Woman shopping in grocery store

The food and beverage industry stands at a key inflection point in its evolution, thanks to unprecedented challenges and opportunities in its supply chain. It confronts a world amid drastic change and must find a way to embrace uncertainty and find flexibility when dealing with ongoing labor shortages and demand for sustainability.

The industry has found previous success through technological innovation, but there remain concerns about supply chain disruptions. Over the last two years, 73% of leaders in the food, beverage, and agricultural areas reported supply chain-related losses.

Cargo theft

Cargo theft disturbingly spiked recently, particularly in the food and beverage sector. A CargoNet report from early 2023 chronicles an increase of almost 50% year over year in food and beverage cargo theft, with an average value of $214,000 per load.

Cargo thieves target high-value, high-demand goods (food and beverage) and those experiencing shortages (electronics). With the supply chain currently unable to meet demand, delays make accumulating cargo vulnerable to theft and tampering. Global conflicts also contribute to food and fuel shortages, which puts concerns understandably top of mind for the hospitality industry.


Automation has been vital for any supply chain, particularly as labor shortages persist. From automated guided vehicles (AGVs) to robotic process automation (RPA), it lowers the number of workers needed for manual labor, improves order accuracy, and makes warehouse processes more efficient.

By 2026, smart robots will be in warehouses and distribution centers, controlling nearly three-quarters of large supply chain operations. Ryder and other logistics experts use Locus Robots and AutoStore towers to efficiently identify and move goods. These changes are especially relevant to the food and beverage business, where unpredictable consumer demand, fluctuating inventory, new regulations, and, of course, labor shortages pose challenges that automation solves.

Gen AI

News of AI has become nearly ubiquitous in recent months, so it’s no surprise that GenAI, a subset of AI that uses large language models to solve problems, plays a key role in supply chain management, procurement, and logistics. With GenAI, software engines can analyze very complex sets of variables, learning the details of any supply chain.

With this knowledge, a GenAI-based system improves manufacturing production workflows, keep an organization regulation-compliant, and enhance virtual assistants’ ability to quickly respond to and assist inquiries. In the hospitality world, Schneider Electric has used GenAI to assist coffee manufacturers, water bottlers, and large breweries ensure peak machinery operations or upgrades when it’s not.

Internet of Things (IoT)

The widespread adoption of IoT technologies uses predictive models powered by AI and machine learning allows companies to accurately track shipments with tools like RFID tags and sensors that make the supply chains far more transparent and efficient.

Here are a few examples of what IoT can do for supply chains:

  • Real-time shipment tracking with containers and/or individual products that communicate through IoT devices
  • 24/7 storage monitoring that keeps tabs on humidity, temperature, light intensity, and pressure
  • Precise arrival time prediction with tools to monitor movement and traffic conditions, with instant delay notifications
  • Quickly find what you want on computers or connected devices with a simple IoT tag

These tools enable everyone, from farmers to shopkeepers, to see their food move from farm to plate.

Electric vehicles

Electric vehicles have quickly become a major force in the food and beverage supply chain:

  • As of 2022, FedEx had 150 electric delivery trucks in its Southern California fleet, with over 500 charging stations in California and plans to go completely electric by 2040
  • UPS has over 1,000 electric and plugin hybrid electric vehicles in its worldwide fleet, and plans from Arrival, a UK-based company

Commercial fleet electrification is especially useful for urban food and beverage delivery. Routes are short, predictable, with easy returns to central charging hubs.

Warehousing and 3PLs

Third-party logistics (3PL) providers will continue to play a vital role in creating innovative warehousing solutions. Here are some of their benefits:

  • Location: 3PL warehouses tend to be located in prime areas near major transportation hubs. This shortens transit times and lowers shipping costs, which makes it easier to grow globally, leaving the logistics of setting up in a foreign market to someone else
  • Expertise: A 3PL employs logistics engineers who know how to effectively manage inventory and fulfill orders. They have the necessary tech for efficient packing, shipping, and analytics.
  • Scalability: If your warehouse must grow or shrink dramatically, a 3PL lets you flexibly scale up or down with demand

The need for food & beverage 3PL supply chain partners will only increase in 2024. Flexibility and efficiency will continue to be necessary in an increasingly competitive marketplace.

Freight Recession

The shipping business has sustained a steady freight recession during this past year, a trend which experts predict will continue into 2024. The two major reasons are high inventories and lower consumer spending. As a result, the freight market expects little to no growth during the first half of 2024, with slight improvement possible in the second half of the year.

This has caused a major shakeup in the trucking industry, which directly impacts on the food and beverage sector. Higher fuel prices and dropping freight rates forced 31,278 trucking companies to move their services to larger fleets or shut down during the first half of 2022.


Many companies have found significant cost savings and reliable production by nearshoring some or all of their supply chain, a trend that is likely to continue into 2024. In 2022, nearly 88% of small and midsize supply chain professionals had plans to move some of their supplies to countries closer to the U.S., including Mexico, Central America, and some parts of Europe, and nearly half planned to nearshore all of them.

There are several obvious reasons for this trend:

  • Free trade and transparency: The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and other legislation allows greater transparency with 20 nearby countries, making it easier to understand and comply with import regulations
  • Resilience during crisis: It’s far easier and cheaper to fix a problem when suppliers are closer to or in your time zone
  • Cost savings: Central America and Mexico offer competitive labor rates and quicker delivery times than overseas counterparts
  • Faster shipping: The pandemic left many workers stranded at sea due to labor shortages and Covid restrictions, a problem that nearshore partners did not experience

Food and beverage shippers have looked to Mexico for recent nearshoring capabilities. Companies that transport produce and other perishables need a nearby partner to help maintain quality and freshness while keeping transportation and logistics costs to a minimum.


Shippers will prioritize sustainability in 2024, with many working to honor net-zero commitments by 2030. This is because of the outsized role supply chains play in carbon emissions, generating nearly 60% of them. The industry’s partners now demand sustainability data and plan to address the problem.

Many technology trends addressed earlier—including automation, GenAI, and IoT—play a role in improving sustainability. They allow companies to spot inefficiencies and correct them, quickly handling disruptions that could potentially increase fuel consumption, emissions, and waste.

Some major players in the food and beverage industry are making improvements. Nestle now discloses all its suppliers; Coca-Cola is working to lower emissions by 25% by 2030, and develop a 100% plant-based bottle; Danone plans to shrink methane emissions from milk production 30% by 2030, and restore soil so retains more water and absorbs more carbon.

Increasing regulations

New regulations meant to promote sustainability and transparency across the shipping industry could significantly impact food and beverage supply chains. The signature example is the California Air Resources Board (CARB), a set of standards launched in California and adopted by many states that presents opportunities and challenges for supply chains.

Recent CARB regulations include:

  • Advanced Clean Trucks (ACT)
  • Advanced Clean Fleets (ACF)
  • Zero-Emissions Powertrain Certification
  • Zero-Emissions Transport Refrigeration Unit (TRU)

A new regulation, enacted on January 1 in California, requires companies to register their trucks in the CARB online system to perform drayage activities in the state. Beginning in 2025, trucks that are past their minimum useful life will be dropped from the system. Starting this past January 1, any new vehicles added to the system are required to be zero-emissions trucks. All trucks will need to be zero-emissions by 2035. This could be a signal of future national standards.

Optimize your supply chain with RyderFood and beverage suppliers face significant challenges and opportunities in 2024. A partner like Ryder offers technology-driven, forward-thinking logistics expertise with tools that meet supply-chain needs.

Ryder’s 90 years of experience and expertise enable creating flexible, sustainable, and efficient food and beverage supply chains.

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