Opportunities & Challenges for Food Manufacturers in 2020

As we enter a new year, it’s the perfect time to take a look at what the next 12 months could have in store for your business in the food industry. I’ve picked out my top three opportunities and challenges for 2020.  Let’s start with the challenges – what key issues will we be contending with?

1) Lack of clear strategy or direction: This is always a challenge and certainly not a new issue for businesses the length and breadth of the country. However in the food sector in particular, this last year has seen a real development in key trend areas including CBD and meat alternative products which could lead to some businesses becoming victims of FOMO (fear of missing out). Knee jerk reactions without proper consideration of the markets, resources and finances surrounding their product or service could be very costly on numerous counts. That’s not to say there are not opportunities in these new markets and trend areas but do pursue with a clear strategy and proper research and planning.
2) Disruptions to supply chain/exports: Although the GE result does mean there is now certainty around leaving the EU, there is still a lot of unknowns in terms of implications and the levels of disruption to be expected. Poor planning and communication along with lack of contingencies for supply chain and export issues and customer service could really come back to bite.
3) Blinkered management: Now more than ever, it is vital workplace bosses start to implement policies and strategies that actively engage and listen to employees and customers to get the best out of them and the business. For the food manufacturing industry to thrive, it must attract a strong, diverse workforce and people now demand more of their employers. From flexible working to wellness strategies, CSR and sustainability practices all form part of the package. What will you be offering your teams this year?

It’s important to acknowledge, all the challenges mentioned do offer exciting opportunities to really grown and develop your business in 2020. Three opportunities I’m excited to see develop in the next 12 months are:

1) Technology: The advances we’ve seen mean from HR to processing, there has been amazing developments for the food industry in technology and IT. From having a robust IT system that can handle a virus attack and an upgraded payroll system that doesn’t rely on the outdated SAGE software to advances in production line technology, packaging and automation – the opportunities are amazing. Simple changes can make a big impact on your business, saving time, money and effort in abundance.
2) Workplace development: I touched on this above, but really do think that the companies that make this a focus for 2020 will be the ones who see the biggest return. There has been a big effort over the last few years to market the manufacturing industry to the younger generations which absolutely needs to continue, however there’s also lots of opportunities in looking to the return to work market. However, for the sector to really start seeing the numbers increase, it needs to implement the policies and strategies that make the industry appealing for new entrants and attractive enough to retain those in it.
3) Sustainability: What must be one of the words of the year, sustainability has moved from being at the periphery of conversation to the centre. It’s not a case of ‘nice to do’ anymore. With increasing legislation and guidelines being introduced, taking ownership of what this means to you and your business will help create a coherent strategy that develops with you as the business grows and demands change.

I’m really looking forward to working with businesses on these key areas to help them make the most of 2020! If Team FESS can help you take on the challenges and develop your opportunities, please do get in touch.

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