The Industry Update is one of the most highly anticipated events of Innovations, Dot Foods’ annual trade show. Attendees pack the room to hear our CEO’s take on the food and beverage industry, the supply chain, and Dot developments.
When CEO Dick Tracy took the stage at our show this June, he acknowledged the “roller coaster” that our industry has been on since 2020 and the confusion over labor and the economy. Despite historically low unemployment, a lot of people aren’t working, and predictions about our near-term economic outlook have been in flux.
Not all food and beverage segments are impacted the same way by the economic climate. Inflation is affecting consumer spending, resulting in higher traffic for value grocery and dollar stores and fewer visits for traditional grocery stores. Rising food costs is far and away the biggest challenge for foodservice operators according to a Datassential report.
Although it’s hard to define the current state of the industry, the roller coaster is certainly winding down. High inflation continues, but prices are going down somewhat on products at Dot. Fuel costs are trending down as well, easing up pressure in getting product from point A to point B. Economists are also predicting a soft landing.
With a more stable supply chain, our industry can focus on exciting opportunities ahead. Tracy spent most of his presentation looking towards the future, particularly advancements in technology.
“Food is not the first thing that comes to mind when talking about cutting-edge technology,” he acknowledged. But despite our industry’s reputation, there are plenty of developments in technology that could be game changers for everything from warehouse safety to drive-thru ordering. Investments are pouring into supply chain startups, which will lead to exciting advancements in logistics.
However, as Tracy pointed out, the tech getting the most buzz might not be the most transformative, at least in the short term. It will be difficult for some devices, like delivery drones, to become scalable. While electric vehicles are gaining headway for consumers, progress is slower in trucking because of the weight of batteries, charging difficulties, and other factors.
Still, there are plenty of opportunities to explore now in the tech space. Tracy advised attendees to pursue solutions that can “mold in with existing processes.” For example, we began implementing heat-reflective coatings on our Dot Transportation, Inc. trucks to lower emissions.
Another area of opportunity Tracy identified for our industry was increasing warehouse capacity. With demand outpacing warehouse construction in the U.S., there will be limited space for products in the coming years, particularly perishable products. This applies to Canada as well, where warehouse capacity is especially low.
We’re doing our part to create more warehouse space. Tracy shared that two new Dot distribution centers are opening this year in Ingersoll, Canada and Manchester, Tennessee. At Dot Foods Mt. Sterling, we’re enhancing volume in our fully automated frozen warehouse and expanding our cooler and fourth temperature warehouses. We also broke ground on a warehouse expansion at Dot Foods Chicago.
To wrap up his update, Tracy had this message for our business partners: “Whether you’re buying from us or selling to us, we’re thankful for your business. We’re grateful you feel we bring value to what you do every day.”
Dick Tracy will give his next Industry Update at next year’s Innovations, which takes place April 22-24 in Denver. Save the date for Innovations 2024.