5 Trends Shaping Red Meat Production in 2022
What are the trends shaping red meat production in 2022? It is an interesting question as so much has changed over the past 6-12 months. What are the challenges, opportunities, and current realities facing the industry? What are the solutions, where are the main innovations taking place, and what role can and will technology play? Here are some of the key points.
1. Dealing with Increasing Costs
Costs are currently the big topic of conversation among all food producers, including red meat processors. As the world deals with the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on business, in addition to the impact of the war in Ukraine, most analysts predict that increasing cost pressures are going to be a reality for the foreseeable future.
This presents challenges for food processors on at least two fronts. First, there is the increasing cost of production, from raw ingredients and materials to the spiralling costs of energy.
Then there is the cost-of-living crisis that is impacting the consumers who buy the products you produce. Whether in the UK, Ireland, or elsewhere in Europe, consumers are changing buying habits to balance their household budgets. Buying habits in relation to red meat are unlikely to escape these changes.
For example, data from Kantar for the year up to the start of October 2021 shows growth of over 8 percent in sales of premium meat products in Scotland. Will this growth stall or even go into reverse with increasing inflation? Questions like this exist across the industry.
One of the things that meat processors can do to mitigate increasing costs is to optimise production processes through automation, energy-efficient equipment, innovative solutions that minimise water usage, and technology that enables data-driven production lines and decision-making.
2. Evolving Consumer Buying Habits
Cost of living isn’t the only factor that is influencing the red meat buying habits of consumers. Consumers are also increasingly interested in buying nutrition-packed foods, and they want to know where and how food is being sourced and produced.
A substantial driver behind these changing consumer habits is an increasing focus, particularly among younger generations, on living a healthier, more environmentally friendly and sustainable lifestyle.
These changing consumer buying habits may present challenges in some parts of the industry, but they also offer significant opportunities, including in product innovation and new product introductions. High-protein, low-calorie meat snacks and plant-based meat snacks are examples of innovative products that are increasing in popularity. The meat alternative sector is also set for further growth.
3. Importance of Traceability
Following on from one of the points mentioned above, improving traceability will be a key priority for many in the industry. Technology is the solution to red meat production traceability, as much of the process can be automated and the risk of human error is eliminated.
4. Ongoing Labour Shortages
The labour shortage issue ranks right up there with rising costs in the list of challenges facing the red meat processing industry. In fact, it is an issue across all areas of food production as well as in other industries.
In the UK, the impact of Brexit and current immigration policy is contributing to the challenge, but there are other factors at play, too, as Irish red meat processors are also facing problems recruiting and retaining the people they need.
Innovative solutions to this challenge are being implemented across the industry, including the introduction of automation and data-driven processes on production lines.
Reducing the environmental impact of meat processing and making the industry more sustainable is an ongoing process. Key areas of focus include reducing water usage on red meat processing lines, lowering rates of energy consumption, and reducing waste by improving yield and through other strategies.
Increasingly, sustainability is also seen as a priority that makes good business sense not just from a marketing or CSR point of view, but also in relation to operations. After all, reducing energy consumption and/or moving to sustainable sources of energy lowers the energy-related costs of manufacturing.
Focus on the Opportunities
There are definite challenges that exist in the food processing industry, with uncertainty in many areas set to continue given the prevailing economic headwinds. However, there are considerable opportunities, too. Those opportunities include measures that can mitigate the impact of the challenges facing the industry, as well as opportunities in product innovation, business transformation, Industry 4.0, and more. From this viewpoint, it’s an exciting time for red meat processors.
Resolving these challenges and helping red meat processors take advantage of the opportunities that currently exist are at the forefront of what we do at SF Engineering. Contact us today to speak to a member of our team to find out more.