edge computing

Have you considered Edge computing infrastructure solutions for food production facilities?

The food and beverage industry is at something of a crossroads. While today’s producers may not view themselves as being at the forefront of the IT infrastructure conversation, food and beverage companies in a modern production landscape are also tech companies. The ability to gather, sort, retrieve, and act on data as quickly as possible is a necessity for producers to be proactive to consumer demands and behaviour, compliant with safety regulations and guidelines, and competitive via optimised processes and workflows. Read more


LIMS offers dynamic solutions in food safety testing

Digital automation in the food production industry leads to smoother workflows, stronger compliance, and improvements in data accuracy across the board. Preventing contamination and ensuring a hygienic work environment can be made easier when these tools are designed specifically for close monitoring at every stage of the production process – from receipt of raw ingredients, through production to packaging and distribution.

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China to drive growth of pork protein

As the impacts of African swine fever in Asia fade, pork will lead a global animal protein production surge in 2021. Locally, however, production growth will be limited, as Australia’s beef and sheep producers focus firmly on rebuilding stock numbers.
In its just-released Global Animal Protein Outlook 2021, agribusiness specialist Rabobank said China’s initial recovery from African swine fever (ASF) would emerge as the biggest driver of growth in the global animal protein sector in the year ahead – while also representing the greatest risk for global trade.
Rabobank senior animal protein analyst Angus Gidley-Baird said production growth was expected across most key animal protein markets around the world in 2021, and within most species, after a challenging 2020.
“Pork production is expected to grow faster than its protein counterparts in 2021, driven by the ASF recovery in China and Vietnam, while poultry and aquaculture are also expected to grow based on post-COVID-19 improvements to foodservice,” Gidley-Baird said.
Read More: Collections efficiency increase due to cloud-based solution
Beef should return to modest growth, he said, led by increased production in North America and Brazil, while wild-catch seafood would go against the growth trend, with a small decline expected due to climatic conditions and reduced quotas.
Australian outlook
With the smallest cattle herd in over 25 years, and favourable seasonal conditions, the report said Australia’s beef production would be restricted in 2021, with slaughter numbers to dip slightly from 2020.
Despite this, Gidley-Baird said improved pastoral conditions would increase average carcase weights, leading to a small lift in both production and exports in 2020.
Ongoing competition from producers, feedlotters and processors would also ensure cattle prices remained strong, although prices would ease as numbers build.
“Continued high female slaughter rates in 2020 and high livestock prices suggests a focus by producers on trading cattle rather than retaining them for breeding, and we expect herd rebuilding activities to extend into 2021,” Gidley-Baird said.
Australian lamb slaughter was however expected to increase in 2021, despite the country’s smallest sheep flock in over 75 years.
“Better breeding conditions and an increased focus on lamb production will drive increased lamb slaughter and, while carcase weights are expected to remain steady, production and, in turn, exports should grow,” Gidley-Baird said.
Domestic demand for sheep and flock rebuilding was forecast to remain firm, with export demand key to lamb pricing. And, with softer economic conditions prices –would be lower than in 2020, although remaining good, he said.
African swine fever driving change
Globally, recovery from ASF in China would be the major factor impacting the animal proteins sector in the year ahead, the report said.
China’s pig herd started its recovery in 2020 after nearly halving in size the previous year due to ASF, and would continue to grow strongly in 2021, Gidley-Baird said.
While ASF still threatens many of China’s smaller pork producers – who make up about half of the production – Rabobank expects the ongoing recovery would see the 2021 herd inventory reach above 80 per cent of pre-ASF levels.
ASF still remained active across the globe, with Germany continuing to manage an outbreak detected in September 2020, Mr Gidley-Baird said. And further herd losses were likely in the Philippines and also Vietnam, where, despite sporadic outbreaks in 2020, there was still expected to be an increase in pork production in 2021.
China to dominate global trade
Despite the recovery in China’s domestic pork production, Chinese imports of pork, poultry, beef, and seafood will continue to dominate global trade, the report says.
And, as such, any irregular swings from China could have significant consequences for producers and markets.
“Changes in China’s import policies, shifts in China’s commitment under the Phase One Trade Deal with the US or moves to avoid human or animal health risks could all present trade issues in the coming year,” Gidley-Baird said.
COVID-19 recovery
Gidley-Baird said recovery from COVID-19 would also impact the global animal protein market in 2021, with issues surrounding foodservice recovery, labour availability costs, supply chain transformations and food safety creating both opportunity and risk.
In the beef sector, Gidley-Baird said, labour availability and cost would remain the most pressing challenge for global beef processing and production.
“Given the higher cost and reduced opportunities in foodservice, margin squeeze will also be a challenge, however foodservice recovery will help lift these margins, particularly for higher-value beef cuts served in restaurants,” he said.
Reduced global poultry demand due to the economic downturn in some importing countries had impacted trade and created the need for more focus on domestic consumers, but Gidley-Baird said foodservice recovery would help balance out supply and demand.
Similarly the global pork market would shift its focus away from exports towards local consumers, mainly due to ASF but also COVID-19.
“Global seafood trade has been greatly affected by COVID-19, and the market risk will be ongoing pending foodservice recovery and improved demand – sectors such as shrimp are yet to recover from trade disruptions.” he said.
However post COVID-19 opportunities would also emerge, Gidley-Baird said, largely on the back of foodservice recovery and the rise of e-commerce direct-to-consumer trends.
Technology and innovation for a more sustainable sector ‘Tech innovations’ – such as methane-reducing additives which improved feed efficiency, or traceability to mitigate animal disease risk and offer supply chain transparency – exemplified an increasing focus on sustainability and productivity in animal protein, the report said.
These technologies, Gidley-Baird said, would enable and accelerate commercial adoption into 2021 – helping drive environmental, social and economic sustainability.
The increasing role that the market and regulators would play in improving the sustainability of the animal protein supply chain would also become clearer in 2021, Gidley-Baird said, with the number of animal protein, food retail and foodservice companies making commitments to a lower environmental footprint likely to grow.

Crops expected to bounce back during winter

Australian winter crop production is forecast to increase by 64 per cent in 2020-21, with New South Wales expected to have its second biggest winter crop in a decade.

ABARES’ September 2020 Australian Crop Report has found that winter crop prospects in Australia are generally average to above average at the beginning of spring.

Winter crop production is forecast to be 47.9 million tonnes in 2020–21, 20 per cent above the 10-year average to 2019–20 of 40 million tonnes.

This forecast is an eight per cent upward revision from the ABARES June 2020 forecast.

ABARES executive director Dr Steve Hatfield-Dodds said crop prospects are strongest in New South Wales where favourable winter rainfall and a strong start to the season are expected to result in well above average production.

“Increased production in New South Wales has accounted for 60 per cent of the forecast increase in production nationally,” Hatfield-Dodds said.

“New South Wales production is forecast to be 14.8 million tonnes in 2020-21—that’s more than a 300 per cent increase on last year and the highest since 2016-17.

“Crop prospects are average to above average in Victoria, South Australia, Western Australia and southern Queensland, despite warmer than average temperatures and below average rainfall in June and July.

“Soil moisture levels and timely rainfall were sufficient to sustain established crops through this period. Timely August rainfall provided a boost to yield prospects in many regions.

“However, it is expected August rainfall was generally insufficient for crops in central and northern cropping regions in Queensland to achieve average yields.

“Area planted to winter crops in 2020–21 is estimated to have increased by 23 per cent to 22.6 million hectares from the drought affected season in 2019–20.

“In New South Wales, the area planted is estimated to be six million hectares—almost double that from 2019-20.”

The Bureau of Meteorology’s latest three-month climate outlook (September to November), issued on 3 September 2020, indicates spring rainfall is likely to be above average in most cropping regions.

However, in Western Australia the outlook is mixed, with below average spring rainfall most likely for the Geraldton zone and part of the Kwinana zone.

For the major winter crops:

Wheat production is forecast to increase by 91 per cent to 28.9 million tonnes, 22 per cent above the 10-year average to 2019-20.

Barley production is forecast to increase by 25 per cent to 11.2 million tonnes, 23 per cent above the 10-year average to 2019-20.

Canola production is forecast to rise by 47 per cent to 3.4 million tonnes, 4 per cent above the 10-year average to 2019-20.

Summer crops also look set for a boost from last year. Area planted to summer crops in 2020–21 is forecast to rise by 194 per cent to around 1 million hectares, 11 per cent below the 10-year average to 2019–20 of 1.2 million hectares.

Area planted to rice is forecast to increase by almost 400 per cent to around 27,000 hectares because of higher water allocations compared to the drought affected allocations in the last two years.

Area planted to grain sorghum is forecast to rise by around 300 per cent to 595,000 hectares, 13 per cent above the 10-year average to 2019–20 of 525,000 hectares.

Area planted to cotton is forecast to rise by 300 per cent in 2020–21 to 239,000 hectares, 40 per cent below the 10-year average to 2019–20.

Nespresso spends $240 million in expansion of production facility

Nespresso announced a $240 millino investment to expand its Romont production center in Switzerland to meet increasing consumer demand for its coffees and support international development in the coming years

“Despite the challenging times we have all been living in, this strategic long term investment reconfirms Nespresso‘s continuous business success and leadership in the portioned coffee segment, which we pioneered back in 1986,” said Guillaume Le Cunff, CEO of Nespresso. “It also demonstrates our continued commitment to our Swiss roots and to the long term economic development of the region and the country, with which we share values of quality, innovation and expertise.”

These are the kind of announcements that feel good in times of crisis. Nespresso confirms that large international groups can produce competitively in our region. It’s also an investment that strengthens our region in the bio-economy field with which I’m very pleased,” said Olivier Curty, State Councillor and Director of Economic Affairs and Employment at the Canton of Fribourg.

The construction of the second production hall is set to start in June 2021. It will result in an augmented capacity of 10 new production lines dedicated to producing Nespresso coffees for the Vertuo and Professional ranges and the creation of 300 new direct jobs in the next 10 years while increasing third party employment and local and regional business development. The first new production lines are expected to be fully operational by June 2022.

The Romont factory, inaugurated in 2015, is the center of excellence for the production of Nespresso‘s Vertuo coffees now available in 21 countries across North America, Europe and Asia. Vertuo is a versatile system that makes freshly brewed coffee in 5 different cup sizes using the innovative Centrifusion™ technology that recognizes the bar code on the capsule and adjusts the amount of water, speed of extraction and temperature to deliver a perfect cup of coffee.

In the last two years, Nespresso strengthened its operations in Romont with the addition of four new production lines and the creation of 50 new jobs, while inaugurating a new Product Development Center and a Coffee Campus in 2018, fostering coffee innovation and expertise.


Eliminating bottlenecks in the food and beverage industry to avoid disruption

To remain competitive, food and beverage manufacturers need to continually improve their products and optimise their manufacturing processes, but bottlenecks can be the bane of their existence.

Bottlenecks are caused by processes in the system that limit its entire capacity, delaying subsequent processes and often causing a knock-on effect that impacts downstream productivity. There are a countless number of issues that can cause bottlenecks for a food and beverage manufacturer, so how can these be identified and overcome?

Please note that you can register for the complimentary Webinar: A no fail recipe to fix bottlenecks in food and beverage manufacturing hosted by Food & Beverage Industry News on this topic, Wednesday 12th August, 3pm-4pm AEST.

Types of bottlenecks
Understanding the type of bottleneck causing the disruption is the first hurdle and they usually come in three forms: production line bottlenecks, supply chain bottlenecks or employee bottlenecks. Each one of these bottleneck genres can severely reduce throughput, cause delays, annoy customers and impact employee morale.

When attempting to eliminate bottlenecks, it is important to differentiate between the short-term and long-term types. Short-term manufacturing bottlenecks are often temporary and avoiding them is futile. In a food and beverage plant, this could be a key technician getting sick or going on holiday, or a critical machine requiring urgent maintenance. They are unpredictable in nature, and their impact can vary from negligible to significant delays.

The focus should be on working towards eliminating long-term manufacturing bottlenecks. These are systemic bottlenecks that are causing persistent production delays, such as specialised equipment with consistently long queues.

Many small-to-medium enterprise (SME) manufacturers in Australia must deal with long-term bottlenecks regularly. Many will experience significant downtime due to breakdowns and other than regular planned maintenance schedules to keep machinery operational, factories must have contingency plans in case of a worst-case situation.

Overcoming supply chain bottlenecks
When the entire production line is reliant on a company’s resources, material bottlenecks can appear due to poor management of inventory that creates situations where factories are waiting on supplies, inadequate forecasts of production that create unexpected problems, incomplete financing, or changing the mix of products.

Any number of factors can contribute to a poor flow of materials through the supply chain, and while it may be impossible to eliminate unexpected disruptions, creating and sticking to a comprehensive supply chain disruption monitoring and response program can prevent extreme bottlenecks from arising.

Resource management
Manufacturers need to apply the same discipline to planning and orchestrating their employees’ work as they do to optimising their supply chain and production lines. This starts with realising that, just like the machines on the production line, employees are constrained resources and can only do one thing at a time and are capable of only so much output in a fixed period.

Regardless of where a new product idea originates, the “heavy lifting” to make it happen isn’t done on the manufacturing line; it’s done by the engineers, designers, technicians and other skilled professionals whose work supports and feeds into the production line. This is where the problem lies with many manufacturers as this development process can be complex, time consuming and fraught with challenges. Often, this is due to poor resource management and many companies still use spreadsheets to plan and track peoples’ work.

On the production line, this type of resource management quickly falls apart with tasks taking longer than estimated; customers submitting change requests; team members getting pulled off projects; budgets changing; corporate priorities shifting; and so on. Regardless of the specifics, without proper project management, as things change, people waste time spinning their wheels, and decisions are made without full visibility into how these may affect other commitments.

Supplier collaboration
Food and beverage supply chains have unravelled in just a couple of months during the pandemic, as has the trust and goodwill between many buyers and manufacturers. And whilst it caused severe shortages of some food and beverage products, the food and beverage companies that specialise in supplying the restaurants, bars and pubs now have excess or spoilt inventory to contend with.

As Australia starts opening its eating and drinking establishments, carefully tuning inventories to slowly returning demand will require supplier collaboration. Working with these vendors to adjust and delay orders will be a strategy in use for a while yet, and implementing network inventory management using their Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system will help to predict and avoid future shortages as well as help to reduce excess supply.

Warehouse optimisation
Warehouse optimisation is the key to an efficiently run warehouse – big or small. It is a highly specialised process that involves automation and identifying ways to save time, space and resources while reducing errors and improving flexibility and communication. Achieving this improves customer satisfaction due to getting shipments out faster.

The automation of material-handling in a warehouse should be a key priority, with the right warehouse management software, materials and products can be automatically grouped by type and storage requirements. Automating much of the stowing and picking process means a greatly reduced likelihood of pallets and cartons going missing due to human error.

Removal of bottlenecks
The best way to solve this issue is to identify what areas have become bottlenecks by evaluating metrics such as throughput, capacity, and wait time. Then evaluate the consequences of those bottlenecks. What operations are being delayed as a result? Thirdly, manage those bottlenecks. What can be done immediately to solve them? And finally, work towards preventing future bottlenecks from arising.

This article complements the Webinar: A no fail recipe to fix bottlenecks in food and beverage manufacturing which is hosted by Food & Beverage Industry News on: Wednesday 12th August, 3pm-4pm AEST.