The speed of technology and the move to smart manufacturing assets on the food plant floors are tremendous, but companies are struggling as operator roles evolve. So, what are companies doing? Turning to more technology.
Food waste is a big part of the conversation with consumers in 2023. Consumer research conducted by Do Good Foods in September 2022 reveals that “Americans want to be more climate-friendly, and nearly half are more concerned about food waste than they were a year ago.”
Italian-based Pasta Garofalo has introduced biaxially oriented polypropylene (BOPP) film material to its line of select pasta products. This new mono-film material is the product of advanced recycling via some form of pyrolysis—an anaerobic high-heat process that breaks down commingled plastics and produces oil and, eventually, a polymer resin for packaging film material or other uses.
In 2021, the American Pet Products Association reported that “pet parents” in the U.S. spent $50 million on pet food and treats. Not surprisingly, Frost and Sullivan predicts that the pet food industry will grow by 6.6% annually until 2026.
In a FOOD ENGINEERING interview, a PMMI VP said that three-quarters of food manufacturers were expected to spend money on new equipment from 2020-2025. PMMI’s Jorge Izquierdo, VP of market development at PMMI, said the driver behind the increase in processing and packaging purchases was “to leverage new technologies that offer increased flexibility.”
According to a research study by Sophos, a UK-based IT security services and hardware provider, cyber insurance policies are changing the way manufacturing is protecting their networks. As ransomware threats keep coming, companies are buying cyber insurance policies to protect against costly ransomware attacks that can drive them out of business. Seventy percent of hacked food and beverage companies will go out of business within a year of the attack, according to Capstone Logistics.
Large- and medium-sized food companies are struggling to find workers and this trend is not going away. So food manufactures are turning to robot/cobot applications to solve new and old problems on the plant floor, while increasing productivity in the post-covid workforce.
Small- and mid-size food businesses/manufacturers (SMBs) are in dire need of automated solutions for end-of-line packaging, primary packaging or processing. “Graybeards” have a considerable presence in manufacturing, and “10,000 boomers reach retirement age every day and represent 27% of the U.S. manufacturing workforce,” according to 2022 Bureau of Labor, Delottie and PEW Research. Plus, companies are experiencing a skills gap with the existing workforce, while also having challenges attracting younger workers to manufacturing jobs.