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December 6, 2021updated 01 Feb 2022 10:58am

How digitalisation is growing in importance for food companies – data

By Andrew Hillman

References to the term ‘digitalisation’ in the public filings of food companies jumped by nearly two-thirds year-on-year in the second quarter of 2021, according to GlobalData research.

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Between Q1 and Q2 this year, there was a 32% decline but, year-on-year, the trend appears robust.

In total, the frequency of sentences related to digitalisation between July 2020 and June 2021 was 267% higher than in 2016 when GlobalData, from whom our data for this article is taken, first began to track the key issues referred to in company filings.

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. Digitalisation is one of these topics – 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 digitalisation is featuring more in the summaries and strategies of food manufacturers, two measures were calculated. Firstly, there's the percentage of companies that have referenced the term at least once in filings during the past 12 months – this was 73% compared to 33% in 2016. Secondly, GlobalData calculated the percentage of total analysed sentences that used the term.

Of the 50 biggest employers among food manufacturers, Nestle was the company that referred to digitalisation the most between July 2020 and June 2021. GlobalData identified 84 digitalisation-related sentences in the Switzerland-based company's filings – 1.3% of all sentences. India's ITC mentioned digitalisation the second most - the issue was referred to in 0.8% of sentences in the company's filings. Other top employers with high digitalisation mentions included two Japan-based majors – Mitsubishi Corp. and Ajinomoto – plus Mexican bakery giant Grupo Bimbo.

Across all food manufacturers, the filing published in the second quarter of 2021 which exhibited the greatest focus on digitalisation came from Bimbo. Of the document's 2,200 sentences, 21 (1%) referred to digitalization.

In the last quarter, food manufacturing companies based in Western Europe were most likely to mention digitalization with 0.25% of sentences in company filings referring to the issue. In contrast, companies with their headquarters in the United States mentioned digitalization in just 0.11% of sentences.

This analysis provides an approximate indication of which companies are focusing on digitalisation 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 digitalisation 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 digitalization have been successes or failures.

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Free Report
img

How is technology having an impact on Consumer buying behavior?

As the world rapidly becomes more connected, it is important for brands to understand the impact that improved technology is having on consumer purchasing behaviors. To react effectively, brands must know how to engage with increasingly digitally savvy consumers. GlobalData’s latest Trend Tracker report provides an analysis of Digital Lifestyles – one of GlobalData's top consumer trends for 2022. The report includes an overview of how digital lifestyles are evolving, including the significant impact that the COVID-19 pandemic had on accelerating digitalization, and how this trend is emerging across different Consumer sectors. Key features included in the report:
  • A breakdown of the trend’s prominence across sectors
  • Insights into consumer online penetration, preferred electronic devices and engagement
  • The key drivers and challenges impacting the digital lifestyles trend
  • A spotlight on key innovations set to reshape the consumer landscape
  • Analysis of what’s next for digital innovations and how brands can leverage the trend
Download this report to keep in touch with the more digital consumer.
by GlobalData
Enter your details here to receive your free Report.

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