View all newsletters
Receive our newsletter - data, insights and analysis delivered to you
  1. News
January 19, 2021

Unilever trialling portable food factory

Anglo-Dutch consumer goods giant Unilever has launched a new type of food factory in the Netherlands the company believes could provide it with more flexible production lines.

By Leonie Barrie

Unilever has launched an “agile food factory” in the Netherlands the company suggests will provide it with flexible production lines.

Free Report
img

What’s the forecast for the food and grocery industry?

The food and grocery sector thrived during the pandemic, largely due to the shutdown of the food service industry and the sector’s subsequent necessity, panic-induced bulk purchasing, and spending more time at home. The market has grown as a result of inflation. Consumer unwillingness to go out and socialize, and the reopening of several hospitality facilities, helped maintain the demand for groceries, particularly online, in 2021. As consumer behavior changes, we consume more food and drink at home, and inflation increases basket sizes. GlobalData predicts that the sector will continue to hold a higher share than had been predicted prior to the pandemic. This is true despite the fact that the food and grocery sector's share of overall retail will decline from its peak in 2020. This report will discuss market forecasts and key themes in the global food & grocery industry in 2022 and beyond. It covers:
  • Market drivers and inhibitors
  • Five-year forecasts and the impact of COVID-19
  • The performance of the online channel versus offline
  • Major trends in the market including rapid delivery, ambient retailing, supply chain disruption, and inflation
Assess developments within this sector to help your business thrive in 2022 and beyond.
by GlobalData
Enter your details here to receive your free Report.

The FMCG giant’s engineers have designed a manufacturing unit that operates within a 40ft sea container and which, the company said, can be moved all over the world.

Unilever said the unit was developed for liquid boullion but the company hopes to use the technology for other food products, such as ice cream, ketchup and mayonnaise.

The factory is being trialled in Wageningen in the Netherlands, the town that is home to Unilever’s global food R&D site.   Unilever said the unit can be shipped to new locations across the world, making the most of local ingredients and allow quicker responses to changing demand in local markets. Products can be rolled out faster, it suggested.

The model can also be used to produce small volumes for product trials, without the need for mass production lines. 

The factory is remotely run by a central “platform eco system” that uses live production data. Sensors on the line feed data back continuously, so adjustments can be made and problems quickly fixed. 

Unilever plans to lease, rent or sell these production units to young entrepreneurs, “opening up the opportunity for new ways of working to others”.

Olivera Trifunovic, Unilever engineering manager and project lead, said: “This travel factory reflects a new dynamic model where thousands of nano factories could be run from a central system, allowing us to have flexible production lines wherever, and whenever, needed.”

She told just-food the unit can be used for both retail and foodservice productions. “The travel factory has the ability to produce both types of products in certain pack formats,” she said.

Trifunovic added: “Unilever has over 300 factories across 69 countries and many of these are big facilities that are designed to manufacture products in large quantities, at high speed. But sometimes we need to produce a small volume (perhaps a seasonal variant) or test a product before launching it. It’s not commercially (or indeed environmentally) viable to use a mass production line for this. 

“The intention is never to match the output of a large factory, but if needed we can incrementally increase production with any number of these units. Ultimately, a network of travel factories gives us greater flexibility in our supply chain. A dynamic model like this could see thousands of local production lines all across the world.”

Related Companies

Free Report
img

What’s the forecast for the food and grocery industry?

The food and grocery sector thrived during the pandemic, largely due to the shutdown of the food service industry and the sector’s subsequent necessity, panic-induced bulk purchasing, and spending more time at home. The market has grown as a result of inflation. Consumer unwillingness to go out and socialize, and the reopening of several hospitality facilities, helped maintain the demand for groceries, particularly online, in 2021. As consumer behavior changes, we consume more food and drink at home, and inflation increases basket sizes. GlobalData predicts that the sector will continue to hold a higher share than had been predicted prior to the pandemic. This is true despite the fact that the food and grocery sector's share of overall retail will decline from its peak in 2020. This report will discuss market forecasts and key themes in the global food & grocery industry in 2022 and beyond. It covers:
  • Market drivers and inhibitors
  • Five-year forecasts and the impact of COVID-19
  • The performance of the online channel versus offline
  • Major trends in the market including rapid delivery, ambient retailing, supply chain disruption, and inflation
Assess developments within this sector to help your business thrive in 2022 and beyond.
by GlobalData
Enter your details here to receive your free Report.

NEWSLETTER Sign up Tick the boxes of the newsletters you would like to receive. A weekly roundup of the latest news and analysis, sent every Friday. The industry's most comprehensive news and information delivered every other month.
I consent to GlobalData UK Limited collecting my details provided via this form in accordance with the Privacy Policy
SUBSCRIBED

THANK YOU

Thank you for subscribing to Just Food