Despite getting off to a bumpy start with the rather upsetting ‘horse meat scandal’ that reared its head in Ireland, only to spread its tentacles further afield in Europe, 2013 ended with record attendees at the autumn exhibitions, and reports of growth being at the top of the agenda in boardrooms globally.
Even the distressing news that horse meat had been discovered in the guise of other meat products in burgers and other convenience products has led to the improvement of safety standards and testing protocols for protein sources.
Nestlé confirmed that it was ‘enhancing its existing comprehensive quality assurance programme by adding new tests on beef for horse DNA prior to production in Europe’. It may also turn to, among many others, the European food authentic test laboratory Genetic ID, which now offers real-time PCR testing to detect equine species in food samples. Results are said to be forthcoming at midday the day after submission using the company’s ‘express service’, and reflect the breadth of work being done in research centres and laboratories everywhere in response to this ‘crisis’.
Such robust testing and increased vigilance in the industry can only bode well for food quality in the long-term, and give food and beverage manufacturers the greater security they need to combat the kind of criminal and fraudulent activity that led to the adulteration of meat products in the first place. Anything that builds greater transparency and safety into the industry’s increasingly complex supply chains must be applauded.
Applaud then resonated throughout exhibition halls later in the year, when events such as Fi Europe got off to a swinging start, with over 1,300 exhibitors taking part, and Drinktec attracted over 66,000 visitors from 182 countries, reflecting newfound optimism in the industry.
“The number of visitors was considerably higher than in 2009, and all continents were represented; overall, it is a lot livelier than four years ago, and customers are more active and again willing to invest,” said Anja Oltmanns, marketing manager, GEA, Germany at Drinktec, where FoodBev Media had its largest stand ever and hosted the dynamic Beverage Innovation Awards.
The growing positive vibes in the industry were echoed in the September issue of Food & Beverage International, which reported on the latest research from the Consumer Goods Forum and KPMG. The research registered ‘growth’ as being at the top of the strategic agenda for food and beverage industry executives.
“After the past several years, during which consumer businesses have been primarily focused on costs and cash – and in some case cases on survival – it is a very good sign that consumer executives again have revenue growth at the top of the strategic agenda,” said Mark Larson, global head of retail, KPMG International. “Throughout the economic downturn, significant progress has been made in the area of cost reduction and cost optimisation. Consumer businesses are lean, they are doing more with less, and significant cash has been accumulated on the balance sheet. Executives are now ready to invest some of that cash to drive top-line growth.”
So, it appears that yet again, just like the new safety regimes rising out of the horse meat scandal, every cloud has a silver lining. The dreadful pressures created by the recession have forced changes that, although painful at the time, have now put businesses on a sounder footing than ever for future growth. Without the enforced restructuring and re-evaluation of core business operations necessary during these past few lean recessionary years, businesses may have perpetuated potentially ‘wasteful’ activities for longer. Now, those companies that have prevailed the harsh times are beginning to appear more streamlined and ready for investment and growth than ever before. Long may this message continue into 2014 and beyond.
We look forward to bringing you continued news of the challenges and the highlights of this exciting industry. Have a great festive break, and we will see you back in positive action in the new year.
© FoodBev Media Ltd 2019