A recent article in the press drew a comparison between the modern fast food sector and the clothing industry somewhere in the earlier part of the last century.
There was once a time when large sections of the population wore items made by a member of their household. At a certain tipping point, off the peg clothing became accessible to the vast majority and things changed forever.
We are now approaching a similar tipping point in relation to fast food, the article would have us believe. Given the piece in question was sponsored by an interested party, one might take that with – pun intended – a pinch of salt.
However, the influx of City money into start-ups engaged in this market suggests there may be evidence of a shift in consumer patterns. Much as we can expect automobile ownership to be impacted by the onset of electrification and Uber-style services.
A world in which fewer people cook and the kitchen is downgraded will send ripples down the chain all the way from fork back to farm, including the production processes in between.
That merely enhances a change well underway that emphasises efficiency and the avoidance of waste.
And with its greater emphasis on automation, as our main article highlights, this is obliging us to pre-empt the new problems that arise on the back of solutions to existing challenges.
Thus, the long-awaited advance of digitalisation into the food and drink sector will force businesses to pay as much attention to cyber security as the energy and utilities has been doing for years.
Likewise, the significant gains 24/7 automation brings in reducing human error must be accompanied by more imagination and greater vigilance in combating the activities of harmful microorganisms.
That every gain comes with an associated risk is a truism. It is also an opportunity to focus more fully on growing a culture of innovation and learn how to harness this for immediate benefit.