Research and innovation in automation in the food manufacturing sector have declined in the last year, GlobalData analysis claims to show.

The most recent figures show the number of patent applications covering industrial automation in the industry stood at four in the three months ending October – down from 16 over the same period last year.

Figures for the numbers of patents related to industrial automation granted followed a different pattern to applications – growing from 45 in the three months ending October last year to 54 this year.

The figures are compiled by GlobalData, which tracks patent filings and grants from authorised offices around the world. Using textual analysis, as well as official patent classifications, these patents are grouped into key thematic areas, and linked to key companies across various industries.

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Industrial automation is one of the key areas tracked by GlobalData. It has been identified as being a key disruptive force facing companies in the coming years, and is one of the areas that companies investing resources in now are expected to reap rewards from.

The figures also provide an insight into the largest innovators in the sector.

Noodle maker Uni-President China Holdings was the top innovator in industrial automation in the food manufacturing sector in the period up to the end of October. It was followed by PepsiCo.

Further GlobalData analysis: The food sector’s hiring for industrial automation is on rise