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Digital Adoption in the Meat Processing Industry

Food and Beverages | Tuesday, January 03, 2023

Meat processing manufacturers are applying digital tools to solve emerging challenges in sustainable processing practices through automation, AI, ML, and IoT.

FREMONT, CA: Digitalizing meat processing units can solve many challenges emerging in the changing consumption landscape and with sustainability regulations. It helps producers manage production demands and adapt to market fluctuations. Greater information access draws attention to meat processing practices, and consumers are imposing their safe consumption and sustainability standards on meat sourcing, processing, and packaging. Manufacturers that meet customer demands quickly and optimally have the edge over other processors.

Digital adoption benefits the meat processing industry by facilitating the following solutions to emerging challenges.

Traceability: Consumers are moving to a more environmentally conscious consumption practice that will result in a lower carbon footprint and ethical meat sourcing. Recent research shows that 73 percent of consumers globally will also pay to access traceability information on meat-based products. Manufacturers see a shift in consumer consumption to ethically sourced meat products. Companies are devising methods that provide consumers with a platform to access supply-chain-related information.

Processing automation: Automation is more common in meat processing units than before the pandemic. Sanitation regulations focus on sanitary meat handling. Automated equipment dissembling meat carcasses reduces the need for direct human contamination and processes meat safely. Through artificial intelligence (AI), robotics, and machine learning (ML), machines can trim cut meat into finished, packaged products with minimal human contact. Flexibility in processing allows manufacturers to save processing time, and the product is shipped in a fresher stage. The scalable nature of digital technology affords to reuse and reprogram automation and ML to expand the business.

Packaging: Consumers are affected by packaging designs like better display of nutritional qualities or resealability of the product. Customers prefer meat brands to other brands based on sustainable, storage-friendly, and recyclable packaging. Market research shows that frozen meat recyclable packaging contributes 38 percent of sales. Recyclable packaging is expanding revenue generation by 104 per year for luncheon meat and 60 percent for frozen meats.  

The future of digital solutions in packing strategies sees internet of things (IoT) applications as a part of communications between applications over the internet. Smart packaging will record product weight and category over the internet to provide cooking instructions to other IoT-connected devices.

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