2016 was an exciting year for the food industry. Recall numbers jumped, the first FSMA implementation deadline hit, and OSHA fines skyrocketed. Meanwhile, consumer trends continued to shift toward premium, healthy, and fresh prepared foods, while more companies took steps toward automation.

Here is a round-up of our top 10 articles of 2016.

1. The Internet of Things and the Future of Food

It’s increasingly common for machines and devices to be connected to the internet and to one another. This is known as the internet of things (IoT), and it has huge implications for the food industry. For example, the IoT can improve production quality and inventory management techniques. Smart sensors can enable companies to track temperatures during shipment, monitor equipment to avoid major malfunctions, and receive auto-alerts when inventory gets low. And that’s just the beginning!     

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2. What We Don’t Know: The Most Overlooked Food Safety Challenges

We asked the experts to weigh-in on the lesser-known issues when it comes to food safety. The most common culprits include counterfeit products, energy reliability, unmonitored temperatures, transition times, and pathogen contamination. These problems can be solved by using smart labels, adding more labels, streamlining energy systems and temperature control, and not assuming all systems are compliant and up to code until fully evaluated.   

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3. Benefits of Supply-Chain Transparency: An Interview with Geraint John of SCM World

We talked with Geraint John, a researcher at SCM World, about the increasing consumer demand for transparency. Specifically, consumers today want to know the source of their products, the environmental impact, and their overall safety and quality. Processors can increase their transparency by mapping out all their suppliers, investigating supplier standard adherence, and identifying as many tiers and layers of their suppliers’ supply chains as possible. By doing this, they can increase both efficiency and yields.   

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4. Cultivating a Food and Beverage Industry Cluster: Advice from the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation

Wisconsin is a leader in food manufacturing and packaging, in part thanks to industry clusters like Wisconsin Food and Beverage. In this article, Cate Rahmlow and Shelley Jurewicz from the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation discuss economic development, innovation, and how initiatives like talent development and improved food safety technologies are being used to scale the industry.    

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5. Food Industry E-commerce Strategies for Success

E-commerce in the food industry is on the upswing, a trend that will continue in 2017 and beyond. From engaging your customers to taking advantage of cloud-based tools for logistics, marketing, and data management, this article outlines the steps you can take to position yourself ahead of the curve.

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6. Good Housekeeping: 7 Tips for Food Processing Facilities

In 2016, OSHA increased its fines by 78%. That means if you aren’t 100% compliant, it’s time to step it up. This article translates OSHA’s housekeeping requirements for the food processing industry. By adhering to these requirements, you not only avoid penalties but also send a message to your employees that their health and safety is your top concern.

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7. Revolutionize Your Food Supply Chain

Get ready for big industry changes in the next few years. Traditional operations will be no more as many new technologies are coming to the market. Automation is a near-future reality. Other tools and procedures to help your business include process mining, auto-identification technology, and ERPs. Learn how to revolutionize your supply chain to improve your processes, your product, and your business relationships, all of which will stimulate your business growth.

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8. What’s the Latest in Food Safety Research?

For this article, we talked to Adam Borger from the University of Wisconsin’s Food Research Institute. He gave us the scoop on new research impacting food safety, including microbial adaptation, microbiomes, and whole genome sequencing. Learn what’s new and how you can benefit from the latest food safety research.  

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9. Forecast: U.S. Food Industry to Grow by 3.9% in 2017

Technomic predicts a nearly 4% increase in the food industry next year. In particular, food service, including supermarket fresh prepared foods, is expected to grow faster than food retail. And non-traditional retail outlets, like online groceries, are expected to make significant gains. 

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10. 3 Ways the Internet of Things Can Smarten Up Food Processing

As we mentioned above, the IoT is quickly moving from the future to the present. The food processing industry will see changes in centralized operations, increased safety, and improved consumer engagement. This article reviews three areas where the IoT could change the game for the food industry.

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With the uncertainty surrounding U.S. food policy because of the election and Millennials playing an increasing role in determining consumer trends, 2017 is looking like it will be quite the year as well. And we’ll be here to cover the news and provide expert insight and analysis into what it means for food manufacturers and their suppliers. Thank you for reading!