In today’s tough economy, many food and beverage manufacturers are spending money to improve throughput and meet consumer demands. They’re doing this despite continued signs and talk of a recession lurking in the shadows.

This year, 2024, food, beverage and pharma processes will look for innovative ways to control costs, manage staff shortages, improve upon their sustainability goals and drive profitability. The challenge will be to use all machine assets on the line at maximum efficiency with minimum staff. AI on the machines will be the solution.

The bigger concerns with cost are primarily still around the labor shortages. These issues continue to be a problem and provide a huge hint regarding where food, pharma and beverage manufacturers are expected to invest in automation. Our Radpak and Gampack case/carton erectors are the perfect answer to automation at the end-of-the line.

A recent survey found that funding for automation was increasing. Only 14% of potential customers are reporting a purchase end-of-line decrease, and 41% are reporting an increase! That’s a net increase. In the beverage and food segments, our customers are absolutely looking at investing in automation. We had some projects delayed due to inflation which are expected to become active this year.

A report from PMMI in December 2023 backs that up. The company’s “Packaging and Automation in the Warehouses of the Future” focuses specifically on warehouses, but addresses the same staffing pain point felt across nearly every industry at the moment. But a release from the association makes a call back to a previous report in 2022, “The Future of Automation in Packaging and Processing,” that also highlights labor shortages.

“For some companies, it was a case of automating the line or stopping production,” PMMI says in a release. CPG firms are starting to realize that a piecemeal approach to automation can be effective. Companies are increasingly demanding flexibility from their operations and the ability to alter output from production lines to meet fluctuating levels of demand. We offer small and high speed machine systems.

Additionally, investing in data analytics and AI can provide actionable insights, helping companies make data-driven decisions for better production planning, cost control and continuous improvement. This year will present some unique challenges, but the drive for automation and digital transformation will persist as companies seek to remain competitive, adapt to changing market demands and meet sustainability goals with less staff.

Food safety has always been important, and the FDA’s Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) aims to improve food safety. One aspect it intends to improve is finding the source of outbreaks. As we inch ever closer to new standards being implemented, companies will continue to improve systems that allow for greater traceability.

The sales team knows my feelings about telling the background story to a brand. It is now predicted that in the coming years, companies are anticipated to go to great lengths, such as featuring pictures of packers on labels and machines as well as providing detailed information on the packaging processes and also the origin of products. Talk about AI on the machines. This growing trend indicates a heightened awareness among consumers, prompting them to inquire not only about the product itself but also about its journey from production to the shelf.”

Some companies are expecting the FDA to begin implementing additional standards. These standards range from more-stringent standards regarding the labeling of organic products and the disclosure of bioengineered food. Along that line, expect the government to issue new rules on origin claims for meat, poultry and eggs, as well as new rules for cell-cultivated products.

Consumer interest in healthier eating is well known and now spread to pet owners wanting their pets to eat high-quality foods. Don’t expect either to slow down in the coming year.

Several factors, such as busy lifestyles, health and wellness goals for nutritional snacks, and more consumers blending snacking and meals throughout the day are now common. The snack industry will continue to innovate new products to respond to consumers’ changing preferences. Examples are Kellogg’s buying a snack company andHershey buying a pretzel company.

The PLMA released trends spotted from its most recent event. Among those of note were an expected continuation of plant-based foods, particularly with ethnic and spicy snacks. According to a release from PLMA, the global shift to spicy food options has found its way into the snack aisle, which is heating up with new flavor combinations featuring jalapeno, chili, habanero and other spicy peppers: Jalapeno cheddar trail mix; habanero pork rinds; spicy jalapeno sweet potato chips; habanero nacho sweet potato chips; and pineapple habanero honey roast sesame sticks. These are all desirable in StandUp pouches with zippers for easy access and lengthened freshness. The organization also states that coconut-based products are also growing in popularity thanks in part to increasing awareness of the health benefits of coconuts.

Our sales team has much to talk with customers about regarding the SN FME 50 machine for StandUp pouches with zippers and PSG LEE for filling with several versions of different snack foods in large take home storage premade pouches. “Keep hunger at bay with a tasty snack each day!” Use this below your emails and mention our StandUp pouch machines.