These were: the fall-out from COVID-19, leading to the rise of disruptors such as Hello Fresh and Gousto; the aftermath of Brexit; and the pressure to become more sustainable, Milton said.
COVID-19 had shaken up food production, putting the squeeze on staff availability and shining a fresh spotlight on health and safety and hygiene, she said. However, while this had turned up the heat on the industry, it had also prompted increased investment in digitalisation and automation.
"COVID-19 has had a significant impact on the industry, positively and negatively," Milton said. "Many businesses have had to review their operations in line with changing consumer behaviour and there has been a marked increase in online services. That's led many to change their models from a B2B to a B2C basis. That's required streamlining of stock and more focused buying decisions on essential products.
"... Shift patterns have been forced to change in line with the changing consumer demand, revised safety requirements and also the isolation of staff."
The pandemic had fuelled the rise of recipe box firms, leading to a revolution in the way food is being ordered and delivered that challenged conventional players and Milton expected the trend to continue once the current lockdown eased.
Online entry for the industry Oscars opened on 5 July and close on 6 September. They are now simpler to enter than ever, companies can enter as many categories as they want and there are two new categories this year: the Sustainability Award and the Future Talent of The Year Award. Read our handy guide on how to win. For more information and to enter, visit www.foodmanawards.co.uk.
Brexit had forced businesses to review their supply chains and had raised further hurdles with regard to labour availability. However, it had reinforced the effects of the pandemic in terms of pressing companies to invest in industry 4.0.
"A quarter of businesses in the food and drink sector utilise labour from the EU and with the end of the free movement of labour, the resilience of the sector really has been tested," said Milton. "We have seen an increase in the use of robotics, for example where staff shortages have existed."
Finally, a sustainable approach to manufacturing that lessened its impact on the environment had become vital to the industry's future and consumer appeal.
Watch this video to learn how Menzies can help food processors address these three challenges and why it chose to become headline sponsor for the Food Manufacture Excellence Awards.
Three food industry macro trends
- COVID-19 fall-out