How food manufacturing moves with the times

The food and drink industry is the UK’s largest manufacturing sector, but times are changing, and companies must innovate to stay ahead. As the sector faces major social, environmental and financial challenges, many businesses are turning to technology for solutions.

All over the world, innovative technologies are improving supply chains, boosting efficiencies and delivering new possibilities. We examine the major issues facing the food industry and look at the innovations that are helping to overcome them.

3D Printed Food

The world’s rapidly growing population presents humanity with a range of problems, but food production is surely one of the most significant. The demand for food and drink is set to amplify massively and the industry will have to adapt to keep up.With the public growing increasingly aware of the environmental impact of their purchases, the food industry must find ways to increase production without harming the planet.

One solution could be 3D printed food. The technology, which takes computer designs and prints them layer by layer as three-dimensional solid objects, has been around for a few years now, but its potential has yet to be fully realised.

BeeHex is one company looking to bring 3D printing to the food industry. Originally designed in collaboration with NASA, BeeHex’s patented technology enables users to print pizzas and other baked goods, letting consumers choose the exact make-up of their meal. Labelled ‘Chef 3D’, the printer is even capable of adjusting food for people with different dietary and health requirements. 3D printed food requires fewer resources, both in terms of production and delivery, so is far better for the environment. Food can be printed as and when it’s needed, meaning that the storage and waste is reduced. BeeHex believes their design, or something similar, will soon be widespread across both homes and restaurants, and the technology could certainly go a long way towards addressing some of the major issues facing the industry.

Smart Manufacturing

Health and safety will always be a huge priority in the food industry, with companies justifiably under intense scrutiny to make sure their products are not harmful to eat. If something does go wrong, from a basic labelling error to a dangerous contamination, it’s crucial to be able to identify the source of the problem immediately. This can be tricky to identify for large companies, who may have multiple manufacturing sites and long sophisticated supply chains.

Blockchain provides one possible answer. The technology significantly increases the traceability of products, as each item is allocated its own individual, encrypted, time-stamped and unchangeable marker, which is shared and logged by thousands of linked computers. Incredibly secure, each stage of the journey is tracked from farm to fork and details registered every time something new is added. Were an issue to arise the location of that product could be traced quickly, allowing prompt action to be taken. As consumers become increasingly concerned with where their food is source and how it is produced, this technology provides greater visibility promoting confidence in purchases.

With eyes on every stage of the process, this technology will help companies make better decisions and improve efficiencies.

Reward for Innovation

Innovations such as the ones featured above are enabling us to take steps towards addressing some of the biggest issues currently facing the food and drink manufacturing industry.

Companies are constantly on the look-out for solutions to help drive their sector forward and this is something that the government also wants to encourage.

To reward those who are pushing the boundaries and striving for progress, the R&D Tax Credit scheme gives innovating companies a relief from Corporation Tax. Eligible companies can claim back up to 33% of their R&D expenditure as tax credits, which effectively provides a financial incentive for companies to innovate and develop.

Another concession, which can be claimed in conjunction with R&D tax credits, is Patent Box relief. If you have a UK or EU patent and are liable for Corporation Tax, you could qualify for a tax saving of 9% on worldwide profits generated from qualifying patented inventions.

As innovation funding specialists we understand what HMRC is looking for and our proven track record for submitting successful claims has seen clients fully maximise the value of their claims. To see if you might qualify for either the R&D Tax Credit scheme or Patent Box relief, get in touch with one of our advisors today.