As Canada’s largest manufacturing sector and employer, the food processing industry is a significant contributor to the country’s economic success – supplying 75% of the processed foods sold in Canada and driving $39.2B in global exports in 2020.
And while this sector has enjoyed increased demand over the past two years, creating new opportunities for domestic and export production, food processors currently face a number of challenges that could impact their ability to compete to their full potential – in Canada and on the global stage.
At a macro-economic level these challenges span the labor shortages, inflation, rising transportation and energy costs, and supply chain constraints that are currently affecting all industries.
Specific to food processing, there are very few large Canadian companies capable of competing globally – 99% are small medium enterprises (SMEs). In addition, the sector demonstrates relatively low productivity growth, decreased investment in cutting-edge equipment, and low adoption of the smart manufacturing innovations that are currently driving productivity, efficiency, quality and innovation gains across other industries. These smart manufacturing innovations include product and process digitization aligned to IoT and Industry 4.0.
Fortunately, today’s savvy food processing manufacturers are beginning to explore how they too can leverage smart manufacturing solutions to sustain and enhance their competitive advantage – in Canada and beyond.
Recently, REMAP had the pleasure of leading a Smart Manufacturing for a Connected World seminar for the food processing sector, hosted by The Food Centre – an organization that works with the agriculture and food industry to develop new innovative products for the global food and ingredient market. The session focused on how smart manufacturing innovations – such as automation, digitization and artificial intelligence – can help food processing operations to transform and adapt to the ever-changing manufacturing environment. We heard inspiring examples of how such innovations have helped several Canadian food processing companies to increase their competitive edge, overcome barriers to growth, and achieve business benefits ranging from increased revenue, profitability, exportability, efficiency and safety, to new market opportunities, cost reduction and enhanced talent attraction.
In a changing world with challenging market dynamics, it is becoming increasingly apparent that smart manufacturing solutions are needed to help food processing companies – big or small – to either start, or scale their transformations. From hardware, software and AI integration on the factory floor; to product electrification (ex. sensors to monitor product freshness, expiry date or breakage); and/or the automation of labour, processing, packaging or logistics – smart manufacturing can enable increased capacity and productivity, more accurate and flexible supply chain and production planning, enhanced visibility, and more real-time, actionable insights.
Understandably, for manufacturers not immersed in the high-tech world, knowing where to start can be a very daunting task. REMAP can help.
Together, we can assess your readiness for digital transformation, and identify the best path to take your business from a traditional food processing manufacturer to a competitive factory of the future.