Could it be that social distancing brings people and businesses closer together?
With the Covid-19 pandemic forcing many of us to spend more time at home than ever before, we are eating meals together while conversation, laughter and smiles lift our mood. Many of us are finding that family meal-times have become the best part of the day.
Food companies are working tirelessly in difficult circumstances to ensure that our supermarket shelves, fridges, and freezers are full of interesting and flavoursome products that make us feel that we are eating out, while eating at home. Food producers are an important part of creating the meal-time experience and bringing us together.
The world is adapting to the new restrictions, but struggling to keep up with demand.
For example, online retailers in China claim to have seen a 15-20% increase in demand and many shoppers say they won’t switch back to traditional shopping habits. In Italy, particularly badly affected by the crisis, online retail orders were reported to be taking three to four weeks, compared to two weeks during the second-last week of March.
Those food production companies that have invested in recent years in technology, automation and capacity are now leading the industry’s race to produce higher quantities of food, in order to satisfy the growing demand for online shopping and eat-at-home foods.
Vegetable processing is a good example of how technology can provide operational flexibilities for commercial advantage. Take technology and automation in peeling and sorting processes: these enable customers to process vegetables like butternut in the morning and celery in the afternoon, with very little change to the processing line. And processors could just as easily be switching the line between, say, sweet potato, beetroot, carrots, or kohlrabi in varying quantities.
Switching from one product to another is remarkably easy. By simply changing settings using a touch panel, the food processor can start the line for a new product with the confidence that quality and efficiency will be optimized, and with minimal need for human interaction.
Primary ingredient and origin labelling are applied automatically to ensure food traceability in compliance with legislation. This automation also means food traceability is guaranteed to the retailer, who can be secure in knowing that the online order will fulfil the expectations of the whole family.
There is no doubt that, because of the pandemic, over the next months we face challenging times. Rest assured, however, that food supply is ably supported by the watchful eyes of technology and automation to help make home-dining pleasurable.