Digital technologies seen holding key to food sector prosperity
BakingBusiness.com, June 28, 2011
by Josh Sosland

In its annual report card for the consumer packaged goods industry, the Grocery Manufacturers Association tied a robust year for the sector with the increased embrace of digital technologies. According to the G.M.A.’s “2011 Financial Performance Report,” the value of shipments in the consumer packaged goods industry rose 6% in 2010, to almost $124 billion.

The association described the industry as having moved into “recovery mode” with companies focused on growth agendas and international expansion.

“C.P.G. companies of all sizes harnessed digital technologies in the past few years to become more productive and efficient,” said Pamela G. Bailey, president and chief executive officer of the G.M.A. “This study shows how food, beverage and consumer products manufacturers are leveraging innovation to optimize service to consumers and trading partners.”

Among the metrics showing efficiency gains over the past year, the G.M.A. cited median sales per employee in the food sector as growing 10% in 2010.

“(It was) the first time any sector in our analysis has moved above $400,000 of net sales per employee,” the G.M.A. said.

For many reasons, the efficiency of baking companies for decades has lagged other segments of the food industry. The short shelf life of fresh baked goods creates a real hurdle unlikely to disappear soon. Still, the data from G.M.A. powerfully indicate that the rest of the food industry is not standing still. Bakers must continue to explore and adopt when appropriate new digital and other technologies to enhance efficiencies. Absent such advances, the gap between baking and other food makers inevitably will widen still further.