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January 28, 2022

Talk of cybersecurity in food manufacturers’ filings has doubled in year

Food manufacturers are citing cybersecurity in their public filings more often, according to research from GlobalData.

By Patrick Scott

Mentions of cybersecurity within the filings of companies in the food manufacturing industry were 101% higher in the third quarter of 2021 than the corresponding period a year earlier, data shows.

In total, the frequency of sentences related to cybersecurity between October 2020 and September 2021 was 157% higher than in 2016 when GlobalData, Just Food’s parent company, first began to track the key issues cited in company filings.

How this data is calculated

When food manufacturers publish annual and quarterly results, ESG reports and other filings, GlobalData analyses the text and identifies individual sentences that relate to disruptive forces facing companies in the coming years. Cybersecurity 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 cybersecurity is featuring more in the summaries and strategies of food manufacturers, GlobalData calculates two measures. It looks at the percentage of companies that have mentioned cybersecurity at least once in filings during the past twelve months – this was 73% compared to 55% in 2016. Secondly, we calculated the percentage of analysed sentences that referred to cybersecurity.

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Of the 50 biggest employers among food manufacturers, Almarai was the company that referred to cybersecurity the most between October 2020 and September 2021. GlobalData identified six cybersecurity-related sentences in the Saudi Arabia-based company's filings – 0.5% of all sentences. French dairy giant Lactalis mentioned cybersecurity the second-most often – the issue was mentioned in 0.4% of sentences in the company’s filings. Other top employers with high cybersecurity mentions included Brazil-based meat major BRF, South Africa’s RCL Foods and UK private-label supplier Bakkavor Group.

Across all food manufacturers, the filing published in the third quarter of 2021 that exhibited the greatest focus on cybersecurity came from US-based Hain Celestial. Of the document's 1,208 sentences, 17 (1.4%) referred to cybersecurity.

Data security was an important sub-theme

This analysis provides an approximate indication of which companies are focusing on cybersecurity 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 cybersecurity more regularly is not necessarily proof that they are using new techniques nor prioritising the issue, nor does it indicate whether the company’s ventures into cybersecurity have been successes or failures.

GlobalData also categorises cybersecurity mentions by a series of sub-themes. Of these, the most commonly mentioned topic in the third quarter of 2021 was 'data security', which made up 93% of all sub-theme mentions by food manufacturers.

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