By Douglas Woodruff, Director of Analysis & Improvement – JBT Diversified Meals & Well being Division
The continued ramifications of the pandemic are nonetheless being felt throughout industries, together with in meals manufacturing, and there will likely be loads of new and ongoing tendencies to anticipate over the following 12 months and past. Evolving client calls for and ESG necessities will proceed to affect the trade’s commitments to sustainability and can speed up the rise of plant-based merchandise. We’ll additionally expertise new and more and more modern options to handle widespread labor shortages and the shifting steadiness between meals service and retail merchandise.
Regardless of the challenges offered by this pandemic, the meals manufacturing trade is properly positioned to assist its prospects adapt by way of cutting-edge technological options. Beneath, we take a more in-depth take a look at these 4 tendencies which are primed to dominate the meals manufacturing realm this coming yr.
Dedication to sustainability
Sustainability has been a prime trade and client development for a few years, and that is sure to proceed in 2022. As optimistic local weather motion turns into more and more pressing with every passing yr, customers have gotten extra educated on how their private selections and people of the meals trade are impacting the worldwide surroundings. That is inflicting producers to switch fossil fuel-based power sources with renewable, electricity-based power.
Different sustainability tendencies we are able to anticipate to proceed and even develop throughout meals trade sectors embrace modifications in packaging (recyclable, biodegradable, or that considerably cut back plastic use), decreasing water consumption in meals processing and growing extra sustainable detergent and cleansing options for end-products and gear.
The rise of plant-based
One other development that can proceed to blossom are plant-based merchandise. Plant-based diets have elevated 300% for People within the final 15 years, and plant-based retail gross sales had an total development fee of 27% from 2019 to 2020, and we are able to anticipate comparable and even better statistics transferring ahead.
As well being and diet proceed to drive client wishes and selections, manufacturing applied sciences might want to adapt accordingly. Many options are already in place to handle the elevated demand and manufacturing of those merchandise, however it is going to be essential for producers to adapt to their prospects’ distinctive inner processes, the kind of product being developed and the technique of processing them.
As these new processes scale up, specialists will work with prospects to remodel current batch processes to environment friendly steady processes and convey their well-established meals science experience for standard meals to this new know-how.
Elevated IoT connectivity and automation
Regardless of the trade, implementation of recent digital applied sciences will probably be one of many prime tendencies coming into a brand new yr, and 2022 will likely be no totally different for meals manufacturing.
Our trade has traditionally been conservative in adopting new know-how options, however all sectors fluctuate in how they introduce and apply programs. Trade 4.0 instruments will proceed to develop throughout the trade as they allow processors to optimize workflow, take away manufacturing bottlenecks, enhance margins and extra.
One development we are able to anticipate within the close to time period is elevated automation. Meals manufacturing is considered one of many industries going through labor shortages that stem from the COVID-19 pandemic, shifting workforce priorities and extra. This has prompted immense stress on know-how options suppliers to develop equipment that can assist prospects proceed to satisfy their targets, however with fewer staff on-site. Expanded roles for automation, corresponding to robotics, will likely be key to mitigate the scarcity of human labor and improve course of effectivity and end-products for producers.
Stability between meals service and retail
Shopper habits has modified dramatically for the reason that onset of the COVID-19 pandemic and the meals trade as a complete should proceed to regulate as demand evolves. At the start, the meals service sector took a dive and retail shot up in lots of instances with the little demand for meals that sometimes provided eating places, however excessive demand for grocery shops. In truth, retail meals gross sales elevated by 57% within the first week of the pandemic in March 2020 in comparison with the identical interval in 2019.
Since then, customers have returned to the meals service companies, however developed in the way in which they interact with this sector. Sixty-four % of customers don’t plan to return to their pre-pandemic habits of eating in eating places. This has resulted in 61% of customers ordering takeout or supply a minimum of as soon as per week, which is up from 29% one yr in the past.
Whereas the steadiness between these two markets continues to evolve, this will likely be an ongoing problem for the meals manufacturing trade with the continued fluctuations of the pandemic and in client preferences all through 2022.
Douglas Woodruff is an expert engineer and has labored as an engineer and an innovation chief within the meals and packaging industries for nearly 30 years in each North America and Europe. He at present leads the R&D program for JBT’s Diversified Meals & Well being Division.