When it comes to planning for a productive and profitable year, food industry trends can help shape decisions for doing things better.That includes looking at consumer preferences, food tech innovations and food safety management.
Here are some important developments that will influence food manufacturing in 2018.
Loving Millennials’ food habits
We hear a lot about Millennials–what they like and how they spend their time and money. And that helps marketers understand what this generation needs and wants–including their food preferences.
Which is worth paying attention to if you’re manufacturing their food.
In fact, in a recent USDA Economic Research Service (ERS) study that looked at the food buying habits across generations, there were some interesting findings about Millennials.
The study explored generational “at-home” food expenditures. Here’s the summary:
The Millennial group (18 or older in 2014) buys “a larger share of prepared foods, pasta and sugar candies than the other generations.” Additionally, they also spend less on foods that require preparation (e.g. red meat, poultry and grains).
So, if this trend holds true and Millennials continue to spend more on prepared foods at the checkout, food manufacturers could see some benefits.
Robots with a softer side
When it comes to food industry trends, technology plays a huge role. It continues to influence the food industry at many levels — from making transactions more transparent with blockchain to increasing manufacturing revenues with smart machines.
And the machines are getting smarter.
Of course, the thought of machines getting too smart can send a shudder down any manager’s spine.
In reality, though, robots often work in isolation, in “well-protected, walled-off areas with fences and laser safety gates.”
But this fear-of-robots thinking is about to change.
Robotics companies are creating robots to work side-by-side with humans — with an emphasis on safety. For example, these “collaborative robots” or “co-bots” will stop working once a human enters their immediate space or touches them. In other words, they’re built with the intelligence to protect people.
So, as manufacturers build better food factories, the new generation of co-bots may help everyone sleep a little better at night.
Snazzy food safety tech
Tech is also infiltrating food safety. For food manufacturers using traditional processing and preservation methods, “novel technologies” can ensure safer foods.
What do these novel technologies look like?
According to Koutchma and Keener, for the food industry, novel or emerging technologies help “reduce, control or eliminate foodborne pathogens from food products and contact surfaces.”
So, at a time when E. coli-related flour and meat recalls are making headlines, better testing sounds pretty good.
Here’s an example…
MIT scientists are working on an E. coli test whose results “can be detected by either the naked eye or a smartphone.” Compared to current food safety tests, this technology provides food processors with an efficient, cost-effective alternative.
Additionally, the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) requires greater transparency (at all levels of production). And these technologies will help manufacturers maintain compliance.
Ultimately, food manufacturers need to ensure the safety of their food products. And innovative technologies are emerging to help them do just that.
Change is good
Trends mean change. And change doesn’t always happen with ease (think self-driving trucks navigating the highways). But change in food manufacturing will happen this year. These changes will make food production more customer-centered, efficient and safe. And that sounds like a good plan.
What are your thoughts on these food industry trends? Will they stick and become part of the industry? Let us know what you think in the comments.
Also, whether you’re about to make some major production changes or you’re still thinking about it, you may find yourself stuck with ingredients you can’t use. We can help! Give us a call and we’ll find the best market solution for your problem ingredients.
Image credit: Geralt