The state of food manufacturing is generally good. This is what we found when we polled Food Engineering readers a few months ago.

The majority of respondents reported throughput is up and explained this increase was due to greater sales, adding new products and ramping up production to meet demand.

Consumers seem to have an insatiable thirst and hunger for new beverages and food. They are looking for different and exotic flavors—including more ethnic foods and those based on global influences— as well as cleaner label products and those that are more nutritional.

This means that CPG companies have a tremendous opportunity in front of them. However, how companies fill those needs might make all the difference.

From the data collected via our survey as well as observations of the current food and beverage industry, there are three things that processors should keep in mind to stay competitive. These trends will be discussed in detail at Food Engineering’s Food Automation and Manufacturing Conference:


Processors need to fully understand their operations and gain insights from a floor perspective. To do this, capturing and analyzing the correct data is essential.

This year, the Food Automation and Manufacturing Conference’s engineering keynote speaker Todd Parker, from Lakeview Farms, will be detailing how his company leveraged cloud technology to get actionable data that drove key improvements.


With producing more products in a variety of sizes and packaging, processors must find new and better ways to keep their equipment and processing operations flexible and adaptive.

This year at FA&M, Land O’ Lakes Senior Vice President of Operations Su Rankin will provide insights into integrating varying human perspectives and processes, illustrated by learnings derived from a major renovation at one of Land O’Lakes, Inc.’s premier cheese plants.

Also, Berner Food & Beverage COO Steve Townshend will be discussing how to build highly-effective strategies that decrease costs while ensuring the continuous availability of mission-critical resources and products. He has decades of experience in managing supply chain operations for industry leaders, including Amazon, ConAgra Foods, Kraft Foods, Cadbury and Pfizer.


Consumers today are much different than they were just a decade ago. They are highly informed not only about nutrition in general, but also their own personal nutritional needs, thanks to fitness apps and devices. They also hold CPG companies to a higher bar and take note of what they not only say, but do.

Two FA&M 2017 speakers will be addressing the importance of transparent and sustainable operations for food processors:

Stewart Leeth serves as vice president of regulatory affairs and chief sustainability officer for Smithfield Foods, Inc. He leads company-wide regulatory initiatives and directs the company’s sustainability program, which focuses on animal welfare, employee relations, environmental stewardship, food safety and quality, and community development.

Deanna Bratter is the director of corporate sustainability for WhiteWave Foods, one of America’s fastest growing and progressive food companies. Deanna has been instrumental not only in driving WhiteWave’s sustainability initiatives, but also in helping the company create a values-driven culture. As a passionate advocate for balancing sustainability with successful business, Deanna sets the strategy and programs that drive WhiteWave’s social and environmental sustainability goals.  

About the Food Automation and Manufacturing Conference:

Food Engineering’s Food Automation and Manufacturing Conference will be taking place in Naples, Florida on April 23-26, 2017 at the Naples Grande Beach Resort. For more information and to attend, please visit

And for a look at what the 2016 FA&M was like, check out this video from last year’s show!