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December 10, 2021updated 01 Feb 2022 10:54am

Filings buzz: tracking industrial automation in food manufacturing

By Andrew Hillman

Mentions of industrial automation within the filings of companies in the food manufacturing industry were 58% higher between July 2020 and June 2021 than in 2016, according to the latest analysis of data from GlobalData.

When food manufacturers publish annual and quarterly reports, ESG reports and other filings, GlobalData analyses the text and identifies individual sentences that relate to disruptive forces facing companies in the coming years. Industrial automation is one of these topics – and companies that excel and invest in these areas are thought to be better prepared for the future business landscape and better equipped to survive unforeseen challenges.

To assess whether industrial automation is featuring more in the summaries and strategies of food manufacturers, two measures were calculated. Firstly, we looked at the percentage of companies that have mentioned industrial automation at least once in filings during the past twelve months – this was 67% compared to 54% in 2016. Secondly, we calculated the percentage of total sentences that referred to the topic.

Of the 50 biggest employers in the food manufacturing industry, ITC was the company that referred to industrial automation the most between July 2020 and June 2021. GlobalData identified 18 industrial automation-related sentences in the India-based company's filings – 0.3% of all sentences. PepsiCo mentioned industrial automation the second-most – the issue was also referred to in 0.3% of sentences in the company's filings. Other top employers with high industrial automation mentions included Tyson Foods, Canada-based dairy group Saputo and US-based meat processor Pilgrim's Pride, majority-controlled by Brazil's JBS.

Across all food manufacturers, the filing published in the second quarter of 2021 that exhibited the greatest focus on industrial automation came from Saudia Dairy and Foodstuff Co. Of the document's 1,079 sentences, five (0.5%) referred to industrial automation.

In the last quarter, food manufacturing companies based in Western Europe were most likely to mention industrial automation with 0.12% of sentences in company filings referring to the issue. In contrast, companies with their headquarters in the US mentioned industrial automation in just 0.06% of sentences.

This analysis provides an approximate indication of which companies are focusing on industrial automation and how important the issue is considered within the food manufacturing industry, but it also has limitations and should be interpreted carefully. For example, a company mentioning industrial automation more regularly is not necessarily proof that they are utilising new techniques or prioritising the issue, nor does it indicate whether the company's ventures into industrial automation have been successes or failures.

In the news: Tyson Foods automation drive accompanied by “upskilling workers”

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