Food processing: A year in review and the future ahead

By Agatha Wong

Food & Beverage Asia speaks to Nigel Wong, head of market support centre, Mettler-Toledo, as he shares insights and perspectives shaping the food and beverage processing industry in 2023 – the progress been made in the APAC region over the past year, as well as emerging trends and what lies ahead in 2024.

2023 was a year of remarkable growth for the food and beverage industry, expanding from $6,729.54 billion in 2022 to $7,221.73 billion in 2023, as well as a strong CAGR of 7.3%. These trends, according to the Food And Beverages Global Market Report 2023, were impressive considering the continuing conflict between Ukraine and Russia, which has disrupted the short-term recovery of the global economy from the COVID-19 pandemic. Rising commodity prices and supply chain disruptions, leading to inflation across goods and services, are the key issues faced by manufacturers.

This, alongside increasingly volatile climate conditions, have prompted food and beverage producers to tap into the latest digital advancements and solutions in order to safeguard the continuing resilience and security of our global food system. Automation, in particular, has emerged as a top contender, especially when it comes to handling the rising cost of labour and production.

Wong shared: “In 2023, there was a notable industry-wide shift towards automation in food manufacturing. Both global players and local SMEs sought solutions promising consistent quality, improved productivity and cost savings. For Mettler-Toledo, South East Asia saw significant milestones, including the software upgrade for our M30 R-Series metal detection systems.

“This upgrade, featuring the SENSE software, enhanced contaminant detection of ferrous, non-ferrous metals and stainless steels. In addition, it also addressed global food safety regulations, offering future-proof benefits through seamless integration with ProdX data management software.”

This observation stands true even for the Asia-Pacific region, as producers overcome their reluctance to automated solutions in a bid for more efficient and productive processes.

“APAC’s progress in the past year has been commendable, driven by an emphasis on automation and technology adoption in food manufacturing. A noteworthy example is the launch of our X2 Series x-ray inspection systems, contributing significantly to product safety.”

As APAC emerges as a leading player in the food system, enhancing processes on the manufacturing floor would be key – in terms of both establishing greater safety for works and consumers, as well as improving efficiencies. Designed for accessibility, Wong elaborated, the XS series empowers food manufacturers with durable software and outstanding reliability. Its intelligent design enhances brand protection, helps with product safety compliance and boosts overall productivity, marking a positive stride in the region’s advancement.

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