Mentions of industrial automation within the filings of food manufacturers were 70% higher between October 2020 and September 2021 than in 2016, according to the latest analysis of data from GlobalData.

Of the ten biggest employers among food manufacturers analysed, Tyson Foods was the company which referred to industrial automation the most between October 2020 and September 2021, a year when the industry was wrestling with labour and production challenges sparked by the Covid-19 pandemic.

GlobalData identified 17 related sentences in the US protein giant’s filings – 0.2% of all sentences. PepsiCo mentioned the topic the second most – the issue was also referred to in 0.2% of sentences in the company’s filings.

In the last quarter, food manufacturers based in western Europe were most likely to mention industrial automation, with 0.11% of sentences in company filings referring to the issue. In contrast, companies with their headquarters in the US referred to the topic in 0.06% of sentences.

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 industrial automation is featuring more in the summaries and strategies of food manufacturers, GlobalData looks at two measures. Firstly, the percentage of companies that have mentioned industrial automation at least once in filings during the past twelve months – this was 69%, compared to 54% in 2016. Secondly, the percentage of sentences that referred to industrial automation is calculated.

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.