Campden BRI identifies five key challenges facing food and drink manufacturers

By Gwen Ridler

- Last updated on GMT

Campden BRI revealed the top five challenges facing food and drink manufacturers. Images: Getty
Campden BRI revealed the top five challenges facing food and drink manufacturers. Images: Getty
Ultra-processed food (UPF), staff retention, recyclability, legislative divergence and food high in fat, salt and sugar (HFSS) are the five key challenges that the food and drink industry need to tackle, according to Campden BRI.

These five ‘hot topics’ were identified as major financial and technical challenges by Campden BRI’s Member Interest Groups (MIGs) at its annual spring and autumn meetings.

The 15 MIGs are made up of representatives from Campden BRI member companies and meet twice per year to discuss topical industrial issues, consider the impact of emerging legislation, select and steer research projects.

Bertrand Emond of Campden BRI said: “MIG members are at the coalface of the food and beverage industry and have identified a range of challenges and concerns that will have major technical and financial effects on the industry in the coming year.”

“As well as identify issues, our MIGs are also highly effective in identifying potential solutions and collaborations that can help minimise the effects of these ‘hot topic’ challenges, and in making use of the technical expertise and support that Campden BRI experts can provide our members.”

Ultra-processed definitions and implications

With no universally agreed or official definition for UPFs, most default to the NOVA system that categories all food products into one of four groups – 1. Unprocessed and minimally processed, 2. Processed culinary ingredients, 3. Processed, and 4. Ultra-processed.

The MIGs raised concerns that media scrutiny, as well as its influence on consumer perceptions, on the level of processing of products and ingredients may be at the detriment of a need to remain focussed on the nutritional value of products.

Recycling across the UK and EU

The current Packaging and Packaging Waste Directive contains an objective to harmonise measures concerning management of packaging and packaging waste. However, there is a lack of harmonisation between EU and UK, between UK devolved nations and between EU member states when it comes to packaging requirements, labelling requirements and recycling infrastructure.

There have been some steps by the EC to address harmonisation which will affect all EU member states, these do not apply to the UK and as such will see the two trading blocks drift further and further apart.

Recruitment and retention

Recruitment and retention issues, as well as being challenges in themselves, can also create further difficulties in relation to skills and knowledge gaps, as well as challenge the building and maturing of a positive food safety culture within a food business.

In these situations, it is as important as ever to focus on your food safety and quality culture. Food business operators need to nurture a culture in which everyone will ‘do the right thing right’ at all times, even when under pressure. Businesses need to ensure that food safety and quality are non-negotiable and never compromised.

Challenges associated with reduction, recyclability and sustainability of food contact packaging

A careful balancing act needs to be played between making packaging more sustainable and recyclable, while ensuring it still keeps food safe and prevents it from being wasted.

MIGs urged manufacturers looking to introduce new or changed packaging, to consider the impact of any change on the packaging function and integrity, storage requirements, supply chain, stability / robustness, ease of use and handling, shelf-life (of packaging and product), cost and consumer perception.

HFSS scores and other nutrient profiling

Currently, food and drink categories affected by The Food (Promotion and Placement) (England) Regulations 2021 are listed in the legislation and include, for example, soft drinks, savoury snacks, confectionery and pizza.

Products are rated on a nutrient profiling model score – negative points for calorie density, saturated fat, sugar and sodium, and positive points for protein, fibre, fruit, vegetables and nuts. Concerns were raised that the current system could see foods typically considered as ‘healthy’ achieving a low score, and vice versa.

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