A new survey has suggested that a lack of understanding is inhibiting the wider uptake of radio frequency identification (RFID) by the UK food industry.


The survey of 100 leading UK food manufacturers, conducted by the organisers of the easyFairs Process Pack & Track food shows, revealed that only 17% of companies have already introduced RFID or plan to introduce it over the next 12 months. 


According to the study, a key reason for this slow take-up is not a lack of need but a lack of knowledge about the real benefits it offers and confusion about the costs.


Underlining the problem, only 18% of the food and drink manufacturers surveyed said they were at least fairly knowledgeable about the technology. Some 40% admitted that the greatest barrier to introducing RFID was a lack of knowledge, while the perceived costs of introducing RFID was deterring 37%.   
Peter Heath, managing director of easyFairs UK, believes it is now down to the suppliers of the technology to communicate the benefits to the industry. “The food industry is in the mood to innovate and to invest in areas which will deliver competitive advantage,” Heath said. “It’s not technology shy, but it is looking for suppliers to explain the bottom line benefits of RFID before it makes the move.”


The research also provides suppliers with a clue as to what are perceived as the principal benefits of RFID and what is most likely to prompt UK food and drink companies to adopt it. Over half said improved tracking and the promise of more efficient stock operations would drive them to invest in RFID.  While 22% said they would investigate the technology because of its improved forecasting potential.
EasyFairs said its forthcoming Process, Pack & Track Food shows, which will take place in Esher and Bolton in May and June respectively, will offer food and drink companies the chance to explore and discuss the costs and benefits of new processing, packing, traceability and labelling technologies, including RFID.