AWS for Industries

CPG Partner Conversations: Infor is transforming food and beverage with AI/ML

The COVID-19 pandemic created unprecedented disruption to businesses and global markets. Now, most of the world appears to be past the uncertainty and turbulence of the pandemic. However, companies, especially in the consumer packaged goods (CPG) industry, continue to deal with major challenges, like supply chain disruptions and labor shortages. At the same time, consumer buying patterns and expectations that shifted during the pandemic have become the norm. Now more than ever, CPG leaders must think strategically, with an eye toward innovation and agility, to address the continued market volatility and shifting consumer preferences. To gain insight and inspiration, we’ve embarked on a series of conversations with executives from Amazon Web Services, Inc. (AWS) Partners to showcase their leadership and expertise in challenging times.

In the latest installment of our CPG Partner Conversations blog series, we talked to Marcel Koks, Senior Industry & Solution Strategy Director, Food & Beverage, and Mikael Bengtsson, Industry & Solution Strategy Director, Food & Beverage at Infor, an AWS Partner and a global leader in business cloud software products for companies in industry specific markets. In this blog, they shared their views on how cloud platforms and AI/ML [artificial intelligence/machine learning] technologies can help food and beverage companies creatively optimize operations, reduce waste, and increase output.

AWS: Help our readers understand your vantage point. What’s the space you play in, and with what type of CPG executives does Infor interact with?

Marcel Koks: Within the consumer packaged goods (CPG) space, Infor specializes in the food and beverage industry, including the entire supply chain, manufacturing and distribution of goods. It’s important to note that food and beverage has many micro-verticals, such as dairy, ingredients, protein, and others. Depending on the micro-vertical, the challenges and needs can differ quite a lot. In our work, Infor connects with executives at the C-Suite and VP levels, including CEOs, CIOs, and supply chain leaders, among others—we help them make IT decisions that impact the bottom line and improve business operations.

AWS: CPG companies have been managing through unprecedented disruption. What have been the biggest challenges for your customers?

Mikael Bengtsson: Until recently, the biggest challenge our food and beverage customers have been experiencing was centered around supply chain disruptions. However, the supply chain has not been as volatile in recent months and is a less-pressing issue at this time. The biggest current challenge is increasing prices across the board. Many factors, including the war in Ukraine, inflation, and further sustainability measures, all contribute to rising costs. Another continuing challenge is the labor shortage, as organizations are pressured to meet growing consumer demands with fewer employees.

AWS: How do you see CPG companies adjusting their current operating environments to changing market dynamics and consumer expectations?

Marcel Koks: The range of disruptions experienced in the industry has underscored the need for agility to respond to changes in demand and supply, but even more so, agility to sustain profitable growth with the ability to quickly implement new business strategies, such as new sales channels, acquisitions, and international expansion. This is what Infor’s cloud-based industry-specific enterprise resource planning (ERP) platform for food and beverage brings to the table. On the supply chain front, Infor’s demand, supply and production planning and scheduling products help businesses respond faster while balancing demand, supply and capacity in the most profitable way. With increasing prices, food and beverage organizations must analyze their product portfolio and determine which products are most viable for the business and in the market. Infor provides product lifecycle management solutions that allow organizations to prioritize the right new product ideas and take these to market faster and more successfully.

AWS: The CPG industry is incredibly resilient. As you look toward the new normal, what role do technology and the cloud play for CPGs? How do you see technology enhancing the way CPGs make, move, or market their products?

Mikael Bengtsson: Not only does the Infor cloud platform provide visibility, but it also provides efficiency through hyper-automation as well as allowing for AI and ML for further efficiencies and agility. When leveraging this latest technology, large amounts of data can be consumed and analyzed to support better decision making, from the shop floor to the top floor. This leads to increased efficiency across the board, cutting costs, saving time and, ultimately, reducing waste.

AWS: With the current CPG industry disruption, how is your company innovating to respond to changes?

Marcel Koks: While many organizations in the industry in general have been slow to adopt applied AI and ML, Infor has an increasing number of customers that are leveraging AI and ML capabilities. The capabilities are available in every tenant, which is the advantage of a true public cloud service. For example, our customer Amalthea, a global cheese provider, implemented Infor’s AI solutions in less than 90 days to maximize potential yield by being able to receive insights daily to improve production and reduce waste. Infor has the platform to collect and analyze data so organizations can increase automation and efficiency—within the manufacturing, across the supply chain, and even with product development itself. Infor’s solutions allow for these businesses to get more out of less and provide the means for true flexibility and agility in an unprecedented global economic landscape.

AWS: There is much talk about a “new normal” going forward. What does this “new normal” look like to you, and how do you think the CPG industry will look three years from now?

Mikael Bengtsson: Most companies will make the digital transformation to cloud and, as a result, will be using integrated AI and ML to drive better business decisions and innovations. The supply chain will be more efficient and less wasteful due to this transition. Other large trends include more focus on sustainability and determining how to minimize impact with increasing consumer demand. In the food and beverage industry, alternative proteins and new agricultural practices will become more prominent in the next three years. We’re likely to see even more disruptions. The speed of change is increasing, and with global events like the pandemic and the war in Ukraine, companies will need to be agile and adapt to remain profitable.

AWS: What makes you excited for the future of CPG?

Marcel Koks: We’re excited to see how food and beverage organizations take advantage of the cloud and lean on AI and ML to creatively optimize operations, reduce waste and increase output. While we’re still in the early stages, there are many opportunities to apply AI and ML to bring food and beverage manufacturing to the next level. For example, Infor works with global bakery ingredients business Zeelandia to deploy AI solutions to prepare product recommendations 83% faster and an overall improved customer experience. Additionally, we’re working to develop Industry 4.0 technologies as more businesses invest in modern factories and automation. Infor is a sponsor of The Smart Factory @ Wichita where manufacturers can explore ways to digitally transform their business and demo the latest technologies.

AWS: Thanks for chatting with us, Marcel and Mikael. We appreciate your insights and expertise.

We hope you enjoy our blog series. If you have questions for Marcel and Mikael at Infor, or AWS, please leave a comment on this blog. To learn more about Infor, get in touch on their contact page.

AWS Partner Spotlight

Infor is a global leader in business cloud software specialized by industry and provides mission-critical enterprise applications to 67,000 customers worldwide. Using AWS, Infor builds and deploys modern tools to help customers transform their businesses and accelerate innovation.
Learn more about Infor on AWS »

Marcel Koks

Marcel Koks

Marcel Koks defines the strategy of Infor for the food and beverage market. This entails analyzing trends in the industry and determining which industry-specific capabilities are needed in Infor’s enterprise applications platform. Marcel works closely with food and beverage companies to understand their needs. He links these needs to practical use cases of technology, such as machine learning, blockchain and IoT, to help customers and inspire others.

Kevin McCurdy

Kevin McCurdy

Kevin E. McCurdy is Global CPG Segment Lead – APN for AWS, responsible for identifying and engaging relationships with strategic ISV and SI Partners. Previously, he served as VP – Demand Signal Management at E2open; was Co-Founder and VP of Strategic Accounts for Orchestro, which was later acquired by E2open; and was also Co-Founder and VP of Business Development and Services at Mercari Technologies. Kevin has 25+ years of experience in supply chain management, category management, and demand signal management working with global CPG companies and retailers, including Coca-Cola, General Mills, Kellogg’s, PepsiCo, Unilever, and Kraft-Heinz. He holds a BSc in Business Logistics and International Business from Penn State.

Mikael Bengtsson

Mikael Bengtsson

Mikael Bengtsson has 20+ years of experience from business and technology consulting, with a special focus on the food and beverage industry supporting world leading manufacturers with internal operations as well as up and downstream the supply chain (including: strategic sourcing, procurement, business-to-business ecommerce networks). Mikael has managed global transformation projects using technology as an enabler for better processes and efficiency that bring business value. Also, he has been leading the development of technology implementation methodologies with the main objective to deliver measurable business value.