Along with great challenges often come great opportunities, and never has this been truer for the British food and drink manufacturing sector.
With ultra-thin profit margins and strict safety regulations to adhere to, the sector can hardly be blamed for playing it a little bit safe over the years.
But environment secretary Elizabeth Truss is determined to revolutionise the British food industry.
She wants to “ensure our produce is people’s first choice to eat here and abroad” in the quest to become a ‘Great Food Nation’.
Sounds simple enough, but what about the pressure from government and consumers to reduce the fat, sugar and salt content of products?
Manufacturers may have to go back to the drawing board if they decide to reformulate the same products minus the sugar and fat, and still want people to buy them.
For those that do succeed in this venture, I suspect there might well be some generous returns.
Reducing the massive amounts of waste associated with food and drink production is another area where innovation could pay off handsomely.
A bunch of new technologies are already being explored for their potential to unlock hidden value in food-waste products.
When it comes to boosting production efficiency, technology is also offering solutions in the form of highly automated production process control.
Robots also seem destined to find a happy home in food and drink processing plants of the future, as machine designers add compelling features such as vision and dexterity, making them easier to integrate into production lines.
Although the costs associated with introducing robots have been a stumbling block in the past, a new generation of mass-market machines that require little or no programming and are sold on a subscription model, might just shake things up a bit.
So, are any of these new ‘opportunities’ likely to transform the UK into a Great Food Nation, or does the sector already have too much on its plate?
Read our Feeding the Future cover story to find out what the industry experts have to say.
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