Speed-to-market and innovation are often associated with technology-focused industries like high tech or automotive. But these KPIs are also important to one of the oldest industries in the world: the food industry.
The food industry is as old as civilization; and many of its process operations are thousands of years old, such as brewing (developed in Samaria and Babylon) and baking (developed in Egypt ca. 8000 BC). The modern food manufacturing industry evolved during and after the Industrial Revolution and today the food industry is going through another important change process. Several trends impose new challenges on food manufacturers: global food regulations, demanding customers who ask for sustainable products, the trend of functional foods, new requirements for labeling and traceability, and much more.
Let’s look at some of these trends:
Cutting food waste is the top trend in 2014. “Waste not - want not” reflected manufacturers’ efforts to reduce food loss and waste during the production process. Due to poor practices in harvesting, manufacturing, storage and transportation, as well as market and consumer wastage, it is estimated that 30–50% (or 1.2–2 billion tons) of all food produced never reaches a human stomach. The UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) works with the international engineering community to ensure governments of developed nations put in place programs that transfer engineering knowledge, design know-how, and suitable technology to newly developing countries.
Food safety and traceability are demanded by customers. In China, a technology firm recently launched a chopstick that tests your food and tells you if it is safe to eat. It is not clear whether the smart chopsticks will go into commercial production. The company had made only a limited run of prototypes, but there is a huge interest according to discussions in social media forums in China. But food safety should not start with the end-consumer, it should start right at the beginning – during the innovation process.
With all the new technologies that help food manufacturers develop sustainable, traceable, high-quality products within shorter time, the food industry should be able to focus on its core competence: delicious recipes – like the ones that can be found in my Grandma´s secret cookbook.
by Nadine Huelsen, SAP Business Trends.
For more information about SAP Business One – Food One, with multi-step traceability functionality for small-emerging food processors, please contact Barry Lederman: 818.704.7000,
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