How Sustainability Trends Will Impact Your Food Processing Business

Sustainable Food Processing Methods

As anyone in the food processing business knows, FSMA law has been driving many of the changes in the industry the past few years. However, as always, consumer-driven trends are also impacting the industry. Recently, Forbes highlighted five trends that are defining the food industry. In addition to wanting more healthy and local food, many consumers are focused on eliminating waste in the food ecosystem. So it’s no wonder more food producers are seeing value in working more efficiently and effectively to conserve resources. Today, more scientists, farmers, and food producers are testing and implementing sustainable food production methods. Here are some of the more popular methods:

Better Food Safety Measures

Sustainable food production practices start with harvesting and continue through production. After produce is picked, it then typically goes through cleaning, packaging, and often processing. This means using energy and water resources. To maintain a healthy food supply and also minimize the use of these resources, smart food production maintenance must be in place. Machinery that uses water to process and clean food must be carefully maintained to prevent scale buildup and mold contamination of food.

Controlling Food Waste

A waste management system is the key to controlling food waste during production. It should involve good manufacturing processes, adequate process control, and appropriate equipment maintenance and design. This involves having regular maintenance checks of equipment to verify components are fully functional. Processes should also be in place to maximize viable food product so that only minute amounts are discarded. Another recommendation is to choose environmentally friendly and effective sanitizers to clean surfaces that come in contact with food.

With roughly a third of food produced for human consumption wasted, experts are looking into ways to improve industry efficiencies. For example, according to Jeff Chilton, a 30-year expert in food safety, quality assurance and plant management, here are four food packaging inefficiencies that are ripe for optimization:

Measuring Waste: Reducing waste directly correlates with improving product yield, so it’s crucial to measure waste at each major stage of production, not just at the packaging stage.

Documenting Standards: Many companies fail to set and document standards for product yield and waste expectations. As a result, up to 50% of acceptable product may be thrown out rather than properly packed.

Automating Inspections: To eliminate the majority of waste incurred by manual inspection processes, automated inspection equipment can be installed. This equipment is designed to reduce labor costs and increase product yields.

Maintaining Equipment: Properly running equipment plays a major role in reducing food waste. Designing, maintaining and running equipment properly prevents food material loss and/or contamination during product transfers and processing.

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