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November 19, 2021updated 01 Feb 2022 10:59am

Filings buzz: tracking cybersecurity mentions in food manufacturing

What's the interest among food manufacturers in cybersecurity? GlobalData digs into companies' recent public filings.

By Andrew Hillman

Mentions of cybersecurity within the public filings of food manufacturers dropped 51% between the first and second quarters of 2021.

There was also a fall in mentions year-on-year in the second quarter, down 9% on the second quarter of 2020, according to analysis from GlobalData.

In total, the frequency of sentences related to cybersecurity between July 2020 and June 2021 was more than double that 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. 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, two measures were calculated. Firstly, we looked at the percentage of companies that have mentioned cybersecurity at least once in filings during the past twelve months – this was 73% compared to 56% in 2016. Secondly, we calculated the percentage of total analysed sentences that referred to cybersecurity.

Of the 50 biggest employers in the food manufacturing industry, Saudi Arabia's Almarai was the company that referred to cybersecurity the most between July 2020 and June 2021. GlobalData identified five cybersecurity-related sentences in the dairy and meat supplier's filings – 0.4% of all sentences. Brazil-based meat giant BRF mentioned cybersecurity the second-most – the issue was referred to in 0.3% of sentences in the company's filings. Other top employers with high cybersecurity mentions included PepsiCo, UK private-label supplier Bakkavor and Mondelez International.

Across all food manufacturing companies, the filing published in the second quarter of 2021 that exhibited the greatest focus on cybersecurity came from Spain-based olive-oil supplier Deoleo. Of the document's 1,789 sentences, seven (0.4%) referred to cybersecurity.

This analysis provides an approximate indication of which companies are focusing on cybersecurity and how important the issue is considered within the food indsutry but it also has limitations and should be interpreted carefully. For example, a company mentioning cybersecurity 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 cybersecurity have been successes or failures.

GlobalData also categorises cybersecurity mentions by a series of sub-themes. Of these sub-themes, the most commonly referred to topic in the second quarter of 2021 was 'data security', which made up 88% of all cybersecurity sub-theme mentions by food manufacturers.

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