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June 16, 2022updated 25 Jun 2022 11:45am

Filings buzz: digitalisation and food manufacturing

GlobalData has looked at the references to digitalisation in food manufacturers’ public filings.

By Data Journalism Team

Mentions of digitalisation within the filings of companies in the food manufacturing industry were 32% lower in the first quarter of 2022 than a year earlier, data shows.

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 – 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 manufacturing companies, two measures were calculated. Firstly, we looked at the percentage of companies that have mentioned digitalisation at least once in filings during the past twelve months – this was 80% compared to 44% in 2016. Secondly, GlobalData calculated the percentage of analysed sentences that referred to digitalisation.

Of the ten biggest employers in the food manufacturing industry, Nestlé was the company that referred to digitalisation the most between April 2021 and March 2022. GlobalData identified 116 digitalization-related sentences in the Switzerland-based company’s filings – 2.1% of all sentences.

Unilever mentioned digitalisation the second-most – the issue was referred to in 1.6% of sentences in the company’s filings. Other top employers with high digitalisation mentions included PepsiCo, Grupo Bimbo and Associated British Foods.

Across all food manufacturing companies, the filing published in the first quarter of 2022 that exhibited the greatest focus on digitalization came from PepsiCo. Of the document’s 1,209 sentences, 16 (1.3%) referred to digitalization.

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

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