What will the future of food production look like?

Like many sectors both in the UK and worldwide, automation and more recently robotics has increasingly been adopted by food manufacturers. Millitec have consistently been investing in the development of automation and robotics technologies. This will help reduce pressure on margins within supply chains. During 2019 increased investment by Millitec in research and improvements in the automation process will further benefit the food industry.

Staffing shortages

Companies now find it difficult to recruit staff, while UK unemployment is close to a 44 year low. This is predicted to fall further due to falling migration caused by BREXIT, and an aging population. Now for the first time in half a century the population is growing faster than the available workforce.  By 2025 Workers under 30 will have reduced by 300,000 while workers over 50 will have increased by over 1 million.

While previously food production companies have been slow to introduce fully automated production and robotics, especially when compared with non-food sectors. Over the last few years manufacturers, particularly larger ones have been looking for cost effective production processes to meet an ever-growing populations demand.

Looking ahead

A combination of collaborative robotics, AI and big data will drive investment & performance for food companies. With advances in robotics its now possible for workers to work next to robots safely. Robots can be programmed to stop should a human come within its range of operation. Companies embracing new automation solutions will see increased market share and profitability, whereas those that delay will have missed opportunities and could find them becoming obsolete.  

There is little doubt that that the evolution of automation, AI and robotics will transform the food production industry over the next few years. Companies that have started investing in new technology and embraced the digital age will grow much faster, at the expense of those that do not. With increased AI, food waste will be reduced, increasing profits while reducing the environmental impact caused by rotting food waste.

Although there are fears about people losing their jobs, in particular the low skilled jobs. Technological advances would help workers work more efficiently and safely. With a declining workforce many currently established workers with experience, will likely be retrained into higher paying better jobs. Automation should not be seen as replacing jobs, rather creating better jobs and conducting tasks that that have a risk of injury to workers, thus creating a safer and healthier workplace.