IFFA is the place to discuss future trends in the meat and protein industry. The focus of IFFA 2022 was on the top themes automation, digitalisation, food safety, sustainability, food trends and individualisation.
Automation: Efficient processes
The processing of meat and meat substitutes places high demands on automation. This is primarily due to the product itself: It is natural, sensitive and varies in size and shape. But especially against the background of the lack of personnel in the industry and the higher demands on hygiene and quality, the use of automated processes and state-of-the-art robotic solutions promises advantages. Processes can thus be optimised, yields increased and harmful influences considerably reduced. The butcher’s trade also sees an increased need for automation technology in the future due to the acute shortage of skilled workers.
Digitalisation: The power of data
Digital solutions play a central role in quality management and food traceability today. By collecting and intelligently linking all data, production can be monitored in real time and possible malfunctions can be detected immediately. The next step into the future is the Data-Driven Factory: the flow of data in both directions between production and the point of sale enables completely new forms of marketing. At the end of this development are additional sales opportunities based, for example, on exact designation of origin, seasonally tailored batches, or even completely individualised products.
Food Safety: Safe consumption
Food safety is a top priority. The coronavirus pandemic has brought the topic even more into the public awareness. Machine and plant manufacturers are continuously working on new solutions to improve the hygienic design of their plants. Digital monitoring procedures help to ensure safety throughout the entire production process. In the area of packaging, the challenge is to guarantee uncompromising hygiene even with lower material usage and increased recyclability.
Sustainability: Climate-neutral production
The European Green Deal, with the goal of becoming climate neutral by 2050, places high demands on the meat industry in terms of sustainability. How can energy and resource efficiency be increased? On the one hand, machine manufacturers are presenting ever more efficient technologies here, for example for energy-intensive cooling. On the other hand, the reduction of packaging waste and the use of recyclable or biodegradable materials play an important role. Against the backdrop of climate change, ideas are needed to reduce food waste by throwing it away. And eating habits as a whole are also changing: the demand for alternative proteins obtained from plants, insects or cultured meat is increasing worldwide.
Food Trends: Proteins of the future
In many important markets, the trend is towards lower and more conscious consumption of meat and fish. Nevertheless, flexitarians do not want to give up familiar dietary patterns. This has an impact on the product spectrum, which is becoming more and more diverse. Industry and butcher’s trade have adapted to this and are developing ever more perfect plant-based alternatives. The Corona pandemic also had an influence on consumer behaviour: here, the butcher's trade in particular was able to score with high-quality, regional products in shop sales.
Individualisation: Quality in the butcher's trade
The butcher's trade, which traditionally stands for high quality, distinguishes itself from mass-produced goods with individual and unique products. The focus is on regional origin, the use of special animal breeds and individual recipes. Convenience products are still in demand. Here, too, the demand for extremely good, healthy and high-quality food is growing. Innovative butchers are also going new ways in distribution to reach their customers, for example with a food truck or via alternative distribution channels such as vending machines or online shops.