References to the Internet of Things within the public filings of companies of food manufacturers were fell by more than 30% year-on-year in the second quarter of 2021 – but remain markedly higher compared to five years ago.

According to GlobalData analysis, mentions of the Internet of Things (IoT) fell 31% in the second quarter versus the corresponding period a year earlier.

However, the frequency of sentences related to the internet of things between July 2020 and June 2021 was 170% higher than in 2016 when GlobalData 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. IoT is one of these topics – and companies that excel and invest in these areas are thought to be better equipped to withstand unforeseen challenges.

To assess whether IoT is featuring more in the summaries and strategies of food manufacturers, two measures were calculated. Firstly, GlobalData looked at the percentage of companies that have mentioned the concept at least once in filings during the past twelve months – this was 32% compared to 16% in 2016. Secondly, we calculated the percentage of total analysed sentences that referred to IoT.

Of the 50 biggest employers in the food manufacturing industry, India’s ITC was the company that mentioned IoT the most between July 2020 and June 2021. GlobalData identified 15 sentences in ITC’s filings – 0.3% of all sentences. Grupo Bimbo mentioned the concept on the second-most occasions, with the issue being referred to in 0.13% of sentences in the bakery giant’s filings.

Across all food manufacturers, the filing published in the second quarter of 2021 that exhibited the greatest focus on IoT came from Singapore-based agri-food group Wilmar International. Of the document's 2,013 sentences, five (0.2%) referred to the internet of things.

GlobalData also categorises internet of things mentions by a series of sub-themes. Of these sub-themes, the most commonly referred to topic in the second quarter of 2021 was 'ambient commerce', which made up 40% of all sub-theme mentions by food manufacturers.

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