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Small food firms miss out on energy savings

By Laurence Gibbons , 22-Mar-2013
Last updated the 22-Mar-2013 at 15:20 GMT

Small food and drink manufacturers (SMEs) are missing out on potential cost savings and damaging their reputations by failing to apply the latest energy-saving technology, claims compressor maker Atlas Copco.

Atlas Copco’s general manager Kevin Prince told FoodManufacture.co.uk that while most big businesses were aware of the energy savings on offer, many small firms were not.

“Big companies see the big picture but smaller ones don’t,” said Prince. “They like the idea of reducing energy waste, but think they can't afford it. They have a champagne taste and a lemonade budget.”

Introducing innovative new technology to cut energy use may seem expensive, but firms that make such investments will ultimately save money, he said. For example, the latest compressors are smaller and more efficient, while requiring less maintenance, which cuts down-time, he added.

New technologies

Prince claimed SMES needed help from equipment providers to understand the benefits of implementing new technologies. “When we audit firms, we can see where they can improve operations and help them get the right equipment in place that will reduce things like leaks and energy waste.”

Also, food manufacturers have a responsibility to operate sustainably and to minimise energy use, he said. “Manufacturing uses a lot of energy, so it's important that we work to limit the amount we use.”

Evidence of attempts to reduce energy use would impress potential investors, while manufacturers that did not do so risked losing business as more companies sought more sustainable suppliers.

Unsustainable

“The risk to a brand is huge,” said Prince. “Other firms will not want to do business with companies that are unsustainable. Investors don't want to be associated with firms that are not adhering to a stringent ethics code that demands sustainable production processes.”

Last December, the Food and Drink Federation launched a five point guide to sustainable ingredient sourcing to help manufacturers manage supply chain risks.

Meanwhile, the Stockholm-based Atlas Copco group reported record growth this week, with revenues rising by 11% to nearly £9bn in the year to January 12 2013.

According to a company statement : “In Europe, orders received decreased compared to the previous year, but increased somewhat sequentially. The demand was healthy in the United Kingdom and Germany, but was weak in Russia and southern Europe. The order intake for compressors was strong, while it was weak for mining equipment.”

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