8 Recent trends in food processing

Brahm Meka
August 21, 2023
5 min
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8 Recent trends in food processing

Running a business can be tough. It can feel like you’re forever playing catch-up with our ever-changing world. Customer needs can change at the drop of a hat, key resources can be strained, and successful business strategies can quickly become obsolete.

As much as we would love to enjoy a long period of stability, businesses must be prepared to pivot at short notice to keep up with emerging trends.

The food processing industry is no exception to this rule. Over the past few years, we have seen an enormous shift towards plant-based foods as consumers make environmentally guided choices. We expect that to continue in 2022, but that’s not the only trend taking over the food processing industry. 

As COVID-19 continues to transform the world, new trends are emerging that could change the food processing industry forever. To make sure your business isn’t left behind, here are the key trends to take note of in 2022.

8 recent trends in food processing

Safety standards

While offices emptied and shops closed their doors, not every industry could shutter its operations and start working from home. No matter what struggles the world faces, we still need to eat, and that means the food processing industry has no choice but to keep on trucking.

Businesses must step up to the plate and implement strict precautions to protect their workers. Guidance on COVID-19 measures is constantly changing, and companies should assess their safety standards regularly to ensure they stay compliant. 

We expect to see an increase in physical inspections during 2022, so businesses should continue to maintain safety standards, even as restrictions are eased. 

Increased automation

As safety standards improve and restrictions increase, we expect to see technology play a much larger part in how the industry works. By automating specific processes, businesses will better manage staffing levels and maintain safety standards, which is crucial as the pandemic continues.

We already enjoy many benefits from incorporating technology into food processing, but there are still ways it can improve our processes. Technology can work 24/7 and can often be more efficient than humans, allowing businesses to increase productivity and output.

Introducing more automation into the food processing industry can help businesses save money, improve processes, and provide a wide range of analytics we can use to make valuable data-driven decisions.

Read More5 ways to use machine learning in manufacturing

Changing consumer habits: Sustainability

As the world starts to feel the effects of climate change, many consumers are trying to make conscious decisions. One of the easiest ways to control their carbon footprint is by choosing sustainable options when they go to the grocery store.

Food production accounts for roughly one-quarter of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions, and a substantial percentage of those emissions come from food wastage. This presents an enormous challenge for the industry.

Unfortunately, the ways we can reduce emissions in the food processing industry are unclear, but our efforts will continue. 2022 will see new ways to improve our processes and reduce our carbon footprint.

Changing consumer habits: Healthy living

Health is still a key concern for consumers. Unsurprisingly, the pandemic has placed a whole new emphasis on healthy eating and will continue to influence how we operate in 2022.

A recent study found that 57% of consumers are becoming increasingly concerned about their immunity due to the pandemic. As consumers learn more about their bodies and how their immune system works, many look to improve their immunity by altering their eating habits. This has led to an upswing in sales of healthier options and products containing probiotics, prebiotics, and postbiotics.

Changing consumer habits: The plant-based revolution

The plant-based revolution continues to rage on. We now see fast-food chains offering plant-based alternatives such as the McPlant and KFC’s partnership with Beyond Meat, and supermarkets are increasing their range of plant-based options. What was once a niche area has exploded into a worldwide, billion-dollar industry that shows no signs of slowing any time soon.

Thanks to the changing consumer habits spurred on by sustainability and healthy living, plant-based products are no longer exclusive to vegans, and demand will continue to grow during 2022.

Changing consumer habits: Fresh food vs. long-lasting food

Despite the emphasis on healthy, plant-based nutrition, consumers spend far less on fresh food in favor of long-lasting options.

The pandemic has made consumers reconsider how often they need to go food shopping. And when they do shop in-store, they tend to be more prepared to make their groceries last longer. This means that many consumers are straying away from fresh products that have a limited shelf life and choosing frozen or processed foods they know will last, helping to reduce the need for multiple trips to the store.

As we mentioned, food waste is one of the most significant sources of emissions in the food processing industry. This is a concern for many consumers and explains why we’re seeing many switching from fresh to frozen.

Supply chain issues

2021 saw a substantial increase in supply chain issues as a perfect storm of labor shortages, the blockage of the Suez Canal, and, of course, the pandemic caused several disruptions across multiple industries worldwide.

Unfortunately, we’re likely to see these issues spill over into 2022. The Omicron variant is already hammering staff levels, and logistics companies struggle to keep up with demand. With no signs of the situation improving, we could see long-lasting effects throughout the industry.

If supply chain issues continue, food processors could look to vertical integration. Rather than relying on external suppliers, we could see food processors streamline their operations by expanding their business and becoming their own suppliers. 

“Just-in-time” vs. “just-in-case” manufacturing

For decades, the industry has operated on a “just-in-time” model, which has helped manage costs and eliminate waste. However, the increased uncertainty we face has all but destroyed the traditional ways of manufacturing.

As consumer habits change and supply chain issues continue, food processing companies have been forced to completely rethink how they operate. 

Many businesses are choosing to switch to a “just-in-case” model, increasing their inventory to help avoid disruption during difficult times. This model is normally used by companies that have difficulty predicting demand, but as the global situation continues to be volatile, it could become standard practice.

The “just-in-case” model requires significant changes to how a business operates, which is why the decision to switch will not be taken lightly. It can cost more because companies need to buy more stock than may be required and increase their warehouse space to cope with the extra inventory.

If businesses switch to the “just-in-case” model, they need to emphasize inventory management. Poor inventory management can lead to unnecessary wastage due to loss, damage, and products performing below expectations. 

By incorporating technology into the inventory management process, businesses can automate basic tasks such as tracking stock levels, reordering, and updating customers on their order status. 

Inventory management solutions such as Brahmin Solutions can also collect key data and provide valuable analytics to help improve processes. 

Request a demo today to see how Brahmin Solutions can help you manage your inventory and take on whatever challenges 2022 has to offer.

Brahm Meka
Founder & CEO

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