Vigilance in supply chain management, risk assessment, efficiency and sustainability are the key challenges facing the food and drinks industry over the next three to five years, according to a new report from Campden BRI.
The UK-based research and development body said it was crucial to view these major issues within the framework of the increasing globalisation of the food supply chain – which raised a host of scientific challenges in terms of traceability, testing and analysis, as well as culture and communication.
A broad view of sustainability was also central – with the chief challenge for the sectors being how industry players can “maximise productivity while minimising inputs - conserving energy, making best use of raw materials, minimising losses through pests, disease and deterioration, and minimising waste?”
Validation of sustainability claims will also become a growing trend, it added.
“In the next few years, there will be a growing demand for effective tools to enable more rigorous and standardised assessment of the industry’s environmental impact with clearer definitions and parameters,” said Campden’s communication chief Leighton Jones. “For example, standardised systems for calculation of carbon or water footprint of products, to support like-for-like comparisons of product claims.”
The report said globalisation and sustainability had underlined the need for a secure and stable supply chain and served as drivers in creating scientific and technical needs within the sectors
Campden BRI laid out its findings in a triennial study - Scientific and technical needs of the food and drinks industry - after extensive consultation with members of the food processing, packaging and retail sectors, as well as producers of raw materials and ingredient manufacturers.
Fit for purpose
Highlighting food safety as the overarching concern, the paper examines a range of themes on how this can be achieved in a commercially viable way.
Making sure that raw materials and ingredients are fit for purpose is key, it said.
“In the wake of incidents such as illegal dyes and melamine, one of the needs identified is continued vigilance in supply chain management - to ensure that raw materials, ingredients and products are as specified - especially in an increasingly global supply chain,” said the firm.
Tools for analysis, testing and quality management clearly have an important role to play. Optimising use of all materials, - including packaging – was also vital to increasing productivity, while at the same time reducing costs and environmental impact, added the research.
Manufacturing and safety
Maximising performance in the manufacturing and supply link of the chain was also important in promoting competitivity and sustainability.
Design advances coupled with new and modified processes, increasing uptake of minimal processing, greater automation and minimising waste were just some of the factors that could help realise this, said the report.
In the food safety arena, the organization said identifying current and emerging hazards, along with their associated risks was key. The development and acceptance of risk assessment models and an understanding of the product safety challenges of adopting more sustainable – reduced- processing techniques was also important.
Boosting knowledge and the effectiveness of sampling and analysis methods was necessary