Rapidly Evolving Food Industry
The food industry is a large and growing industry that is constantly evolving in terms of customer tastes, preferences, packaging, processing, manufacturing, distribution and many more.
Over the last decade, the food industry has undergone a significant transformation due to the rapidly changing behaviours of consumers, technological advancements, and regulatory factors. Although these changes have created many opportunities for food firms, they have also created challenges across the food manufacturing spectrum.
So, what challenges can we expect to see in 2021 for food manufacturers?
Challenges Facing Food Companies in 2021 and Beyond
Although the obstacles facing food manufacturers today might feel like the same challenges the industry has been plagued with for years, each year brings with it new challenges.
From sustainability issues facing the industry to the need to react quicker to new changes in customer demand, the food industry faces a myriad of challenges in 2021.
Food and beverage manufacturers also face increasing calls for traceability in sourcing and processing, increased pressure on margins and the need to ensure food loss and waste is managed effectively in an uncertain global marketplace. Manufacturers must also combat the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
In this blog article we take a closer look at some of these challenges and explore how pigging systems for food can help manufacturers overcome these challenges.
Challenge: Ever-Changing Customer Needs and Preferences
Customer needs and preferences are changing more rapidly than ever. Some of the key areas of change include:
- The acceleration towards plant-based food alternatives
- Increasing interest in food that is produced in a sustainable way.
- More interest in organic and “better for you” healthier food offerings
These evolving expectations are putting pressure on the food industry to adapt to an ever-changing consumer and to be agile and flexible in their production. This can be somewhat difficult for more established food manufacturers that often dominate the industry. These larger firms are often slower to respond when new opportunities emerge than more agile, smaller, and niche food manufacturers. And with the uncertainty from COVID-19 persisting throughout the globe, this problem has only worsened with many larger food manufacturers preferring to stick to their “bread and butter” lines.
However, manufacturers that don’t embrace change face the risk of losing customers and getting left behind. Especially with smaller niche companies continuing to disrupt key categories like ice cream, snacks, and yoghurt.
Therefore, it’s more important than ever that in 2021 and beyond, manufacturers proactively respond to changes in demand and incorporate technologies that support manufacturing productivity, speed, and flexibility of a plant.
Challenge: Sustainability Issues
Despite the economic hardship associated with the coronavirus pandemic, sustainability hasn’t shown any signs of slowing down. More than ever, consumers are demanding the food they consume is produced in a sustainable way and the raw materials used are grown and manufactured in a responsible way. What’s more, the packaging also must contribute to improved environmental performance.
Therefore, food manufacturers must respond by incorporating sustainability principles into everything from processing, manufacturing practices and raw material sourcing right through to packaging, distribution, and logistics.
From reducing waste throughout their operations and focusing on recycled material in packaging to cutting energy costs and using water as efficiently and responsibly as possible, manufacturers must make great strides to reduce their environmental impact and mitigate the climate crisis.
Challenge: Food Fraud
Food fraud is another problem that has dominated the food industry for years. Here’s our blog article from way back about how food fraud is threatening the food industry.
Due to the pandemic creating extraordinary turbulence in supply chains, this has given (and is still giving) substantial opportunity for food criminals. This has been made possible due to the systems in place for checking, inspecting, auditing, and testing supply chains around the world, have been greatly restricted or shut down because of COVID-19.
In addition, food manufacturers have been largely focusing their efforts on meeting demand and ensuring a sufficient food supply. Therefore, they haven’t had as much time to check that their suppliers are all delivering food that is 100 percent genuine. With the pandemic set to come to end in 2021, it’s up to food companies to come up with solutions to tackle the problem of food fraud which poses a significant threat to the food industry.
Challenge: Traceability Throughout the Supply Chain
In recent years, traceability has been a major issue in the food industry, especially for companies operating on a global scale with more complex supply chains. And in 2021, it’s something that will continue to challenge food manufacturers.
Food traceability refers to the ability to identify and validate various stages of the food supply chain from production to distribution. It involves having a system and process in place so if a food safety issue does arise, manufacturers can pinpoint the exact sources of foods involved and the scope of any potential incident.
Without traceability throughout the whole supply chain, manufacturers face the risk of damaging their brand and incurring considerable recall costs including complaints, logistics, product disposal, potential lawsuits and so on.
That’s why it’s important to have the right technology in place for accurate batch and lot traceability. This ensures food processing operations run smoothly, reliably, and efficiently. And if a product recall incident does occur, the precise location and cause of the problem can be identified swiftly.
Benefits of Pigging Systems for Food Manufacturers
Liquid product recovery (otherwise known as “pigging”) can help food manufacturers solve some of their biggest business challenges. That’s why pigging is widely used in the food industry. And its use is increasing.
Pigging refers to the technology that uses a specialist projectile (the “pig”), to reclaim residual liquid product from pipe that would otherwise be wasted.
The innovative, flexible design of the HPS pig enables it to maintain performance around 1.5 D bends while maintaining a strong interference fit. In most cases, it recovers up to 99.5% of product from full pipelines.
The benefits of pigging systems for food are extensive. Pigging also delivers ongoing savings, remarkable return on investment and fast payback.
How Pigging Systems Help Food Manufacturers
Because pigging recovers massive amounts of residual liquid from the inside of process pipelines instead of disposing it, it increases yields and cuts waste.
The product recovered by the HPS pig is perfectly usable, and without a pigging system, would be discarded as waste or flushed away during the cleaning process. Instead, it is reclaimed and can continue to be processed, bottled, canned, or stored.
As well as increasing yields and cutting waste, pigging systems make the cleaning and changeover process much faster. The HPS pig clears the line so effectively, that less cleaning agents, chemicals, and water are required.
Because of this, pigging saves on the direct cost of these products along with the associated transportation costs. What’s more, because it provides a huge reduction in overall waste, pigging helps manufacturers towards their sustainability goals.
Meeting Customer Demand for Greater Product Variety Using Pigging
Pigging systems also significantly improve production flexibility, agility and improve the competitiveness of food manufacturing operations.
With a pigging process, the same processing line can be used for different configurations and formulations of product from Greek yoghurt and quark to cottage cheese, fromage frais and so on. This increases the flexibility and capacity of food processing operations.
By using shared lines that incorporate pigging, this enables manufacturers to be more agile and launch new products rapidly as well as quickly adapt to changes in demand. In some cases, with a pigging system it’s often possible to process the next product instantly after pigging.
However, this is entirely dependent on the product and factors such as flavour, colour etc.
Additional Benefits of Food for Food Manufacturers
Pigging systems also offer a wide range of additional benefits for food processors and manufacturers. This includes improved productivity, less downtime, reduced contamination, and cross-contamination risks, faster clean-in-place (CIP) and much more. Pigging also ensures the most efficient operation possible and will make your working life easier.
In addition, pigging alongside an effective ERP solution can improve the accuracy, reliability and efficiency of liquid product lot or batch traceability.
Therefore, it’s quite clear why pigging systems and pipeline pigging products are become more widespread in food processing plants throughout the world.
Find Out More
To improve your food processing using pigging and liquid product recovery technology, please get in touch. Our process system experts will be more than happy to help.