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Kerfoot identifies food manufacturing trends for 2021

25 March 2021

Joanna Deighton, commercial manager at Kerfoot Group, a supplier of natural and organic plant-based oils for the food sector, has shared some insight into the manufacturing trends set to influence brands in the next 12 months. 

The business, which supports food brands and manufacturers with oils and ingredients innovations, has used its market knowledge to highlight where it thinks food manufacturers will be putting fresh focus and attention over the coming year. 

Food brands are keenly aware that the current market environment is volatile and is likely to remain so for the foreseeable future. When purchase behaviours change, the food manufacturing industry must be able to shift and adapt in response. 

The most apparent upward shift for food manufacturers is the renewed focus on transparency. It’s been on the agenda for a long time but massively accelerated by the global pandemic. We’re in the age of information and consumers are never more than a few clicks from in-depth data on ingredient provenance, allergen information and the product’s global footprint.  

Consumers are becoming engaged and proactive, which means how food is made and where it comes from is just as important as the end product. Through the supply chain, ‘transparency’ doesn’t sit in a bubble or in isolation, it covers elements of clean label product design, and sustainability. Put simply, the selection of ingredients, the manufacturing process, along with handling and storage, are all under the microscope. 

We are also seeing an increasing need for production agility. Many brands are seeking range extensions designed to meet the needs of today’s consumer – but are production facilities equipped to deliver this? It is likely that we will see strong innovation in handling, storage and space optimisation in food manufacturing as range SKUs again proliferate. Further ahead, we may see food manufacturers adopt processes that more closely resemble the ‘just-in-time’ production methods that are more prevalent in other industries.  

On a similar note, we also expect to see ‘hyper-efficiency’ discussed more frequently by food brands this year. This ethos focuses on smaller, incremental efficiency gains through the manufacturing supply chain, with the goal of making a bigger impact than any singular ‘overhaul’. From our perspective as an oils and ingredients partner to the food manufacturing sector, we have seen this heightened need for agility first-hand with the growing interest and adoption of our oil blends service.  

Combining multiple ingredients into one SKU cuts down procurement, handling, storage and auditing requirements to give food manufacturers a new level of production dexterity. Importantly, it enables manufacturers to drive innovation and creativity into ranges, without the normally associated procurement, supply chain and operations headaches. Solutions such as Basil in Extra Virgin Olive Oil and Chilli in Sunflower Oil are providing real operational advantages for our customers, who are able to pick and mix from our carrier and essential oils ranges to deliver innovation. 

2021 is about once again putting creativity at the forefront of food manufacturing, not just getting products on shelf. Smart, streamlined, efficiency-driven solutions are going to be key to competitive success. 

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