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By Douglas Woodruff, Vice President of NPD & Technology at JBT Diversified Food & Health

Consumers and businesses around the world are finding new ways to prioritize sustainability in the wake of climate change, and the food and beverage industry has a key role to play. Companies that provide the technology solutions to food and beverage processors have a particularly unique opportunity as their solutions have a ripple effect across the supply chain. 

As processing companies continue to evolve their sustainability strategies to adapt to an ever-evolving market, technology solutions that put sustainability at the forefront are critical. To ensure your technological investments have a positive ROI for your business and for the planet, consider the following strategies.

Emphasize continuous improvement

Most food and beverage processors have goals set forth to reduce their environmental impact, and technology plays an important part in achieving these goals. Therefore, it’s key that technology providers understand their customers’ goals and challenges and offer solutions that support and address those needs over time. Tech providers must have a dedicated focus on continuous improvement, from both a customer service and sustainability perspective. Consider providers that offer a combination of digital solutions and dedicated experts that work with continuous improvement leaders to make incremental improvements that lead to real savings in production operations. 

Frequent research and analysis of current operational technology will help identify areas of improvement and new technologies to better serve customers. Identifying technology solution providers who have this relentless continuous improvement mindset is a clear indicator of a partnership that will continuously support your operations, and as a result, increase yield and efficiency, and strengthen your sustainability efforts.

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Prioritize longevity of equipment

Technology that fits your current operational needs is important, but it must also be reliable and able to adapt to future needs. Tech providers that prioritize durability and modularity in the design phase are most likely to ensure that your investment will continue to thrive for years to come.

In alignment with continuous improvement, consider tech solutions providers who prioritize finding new ways to maximize equipment longevity, like refurbishment programs. Some tech providers implement programs that make proactive upgrades to older machines, instead of replacing equipment right away. As a result, customers benefit from performance enhancements while preventing machine obsolescence. These programs also contribute to a circular economy, reducing the need for new machinery while also keeping useful materials in circulation.

Create authentic partnerships

Like any business partnership, food and beverage processors should develop partnerships with technology solutions providers that understand their core business strategies. This includes learning about and having a clear understanding about their customers’ goals and how they can serve as true partners to help achieve them.

Significant innovation is often the result of partnerships and collaborations with members of differing industries. When a technology partner prioritizes sustainability in their own operations as well as in their product development process, it is an indicator that its solutions will support its customers’ sustainability efforts as well. Knowledge sharing is important. An authentic partnership will be collaborative and strategic in support of a shared goal to reduce carbon footprints and protect the environment.

If improving sustainability efforts is a priority for your company, that value should be reflected as much as possible in business decisions. Investing in new technology or upgrading existing technology can have a real impact on sustainability and working with the right partners can help you achieve stronger outcomes and a better, healthier world.

Douglas Woodruff is a Professional Engineer and has worked as an innovation leader in the food and packaging industries for almost 30 years in both North America and Europe. He currently leads the R&D program for JBT’s Diversified Food & Health Division.