Nestlé, Arla Foods and Ferrero are among the food manufacturers so far best set up in the area of cybersecurity, according to data and analytics group GlobalData.

According to analysis set out by GlobalData, Just Food’s parent, the companies are among a cutch of food manufacturers set fair to benefit from investments in cybersecurity. All of them recorded scores of four out of five in GlobalData’s Confectionery and Snacks and Dairy and Dairy Alternatives Thematic Scorecards for their efforts in the area.

The assessment comes from GlobalData’s Thematic Research ecosystem, which ranks companies on a scale of one to five based on their likelihood to tackle challenges like cybersecurity and emerge as long-term winners in the food manufacturing sector.

GlobalData consumer industry analyst Alice Popple highlighted the efforts of some of the companies awarded a ranking of four.

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“Nestlé has a custom-built Azure Machine Learning to help prevent cyber security threats,” she pointed out. “Arla has a framework of integrated tools to prevent cyber security threats. They are very aware of the dangers of cyber-attacks and therefore are actively creating a contingency plan. Ferrero has a very clear cyber security control system in place, including a team of employees who focus on coordinating and monitoring security and compliance.”

Microsoft has set out how it is working with Nestlé. Together, the two companies have created PhishScreener, a tool Microsft says “can quickly uncover phishing before an employee clicks a malicious link. As a result, Nestlé has reduced false positives, sped up detection times, and increased its overall phishing coverage”.

The IT giant adds: “Nestlé is the largest food and beverage company in the world and employs more than 300,000 people in 189 countries. This massive global presence is great for business but challenging for Nestlé’s global security operations centre, which is tasked with keeping the company – and its 300,000 email accounts – safe from malicious phishing attacks among many other cybersecurity threats.”

There can be no doubt cybersecurity should be a major business issue for FMCG boardrooms the world over. Recent cyberattacks on major food manufacturers have highlighted how big business can be open to breaches.

In May last year, Brazil-based meat giant JBS saw its servers supporting the company’s North American and Australian IT systems targeted by what the company called “an organised cybersecurity attack”.

Within four days, JBS announced a “resolution” to the breach, stating its factories were “fully operational”. The company said it paid “the equivalent” of US$11m to the hackers – said by the FBI to be REvil, a Russia cyber-criminal group also known as Sodinokibi – after consulting with “internal IT professionals and third-party cybersecurity experts”.

The affair, following similar incidents in recent years on US brewer Molson Coors Beverage Co., snacks group Mondelez International and fast-food chain Wendy’s, only underlines the importance boardrooms should place on the issue.

The overall score GlobalData gives to a company for its efforts in the area of cybersecurity is marked relative to its peers. A score of five indicates that a company is a dominant player in this space, while companies that score less than three are vulnerable to being left behind. “Companies that get a five in cybersecurity must be ahead of all other companies and be truly winning in this theme with no potential cybersecurity risks,” Popple suggests. “Cybersecurity would be at the forefront of their organisational strategy with ample investment in this theme over other themes.”

This article is based on GlobalData research figures as of 10 June 2022. For more up-to-date figures, check the GlobalData website.