Like most industries, food products companies are moving into the modern world. But it isn't just restaurants with smart phone menus or online food delivery companies that lead the sector into the future. Cutting edge manufacturing technology for dairy and meat processing plants in Wisconsin require a new field of skilled laborers, while startup food entrepreneurs in Detroit are helping one another grow their business by providing spaces and resources necessary to get a small company off the ground.
Changes like these are visible across the country. The industry is adapting to the growing needs of consumers, changing regulations and shifting produce and materials sources. In order to stay ahead of the curve, companies are embracing change and modernization – a strategy that should provide enduring success.
Manufacturing technology takes hold in Wisconsin
The typical narrative surrounding automation integration in factories, according to skeptics, is that the new technology will replace employees and drive up unemployment. In reality, the jobs are not disappearing – they are only changing, according to the Associated Press. In Wisconsin, the food sector ranks third in the state for manufacturing employment, with its huge focus on meat and cheese.
As the industry grows, there is no shortage of new jobs available. In fact, the opposite is true – manufacturing opportunities are increasing and more workers are required to fill those roles.
"We talk about people that still stay in the same classification of jobs, but now instead of putting cheese on line, they're monitoring cheese coming off of multiple lines," Bill Bartnik, director of manufacturing systems for Sargento, told the Associated Press. "Now they need to read computer screens or they'll be scanning something. They're in a little bit more of a monitoring role, but they're not really out of their comfort zone."
More jobs are becoming available faster than food manufacturers can fill them. The introduction of more equipment and technology in these facilities has turned out to be a job creator – not a reason for layoffs, as some may think.
Detroit program gives life to food entrepreneurs
On the other side of the Great Lakes, Detroit has seen its own share of innovation within the food industry. But it isn't on the manufacturing side – rather, food startups are lending a hand to one another in order to create a culture of innovation within the industry, according to Metro Modern Media. Programs like The Seed and The Culinary Studio offer space, resources and advice to food startups across Michigan.
The Seed, pioneered by Garden Fresh owners Jack and Annette Aronson, helps amateur chefs launch their own restaurant or product. More and more individuals create a culinary idea that they dream will become a hit across a broad audience.
"That does happen, but it happens to a few, and those few are savvy in how they go about this production process," George Vutetakis, director of research and development for Garden Fresh, told Metro Modern Media. "Since there are not many people who are actually sharing this information, specifically of how to bring a product into the market, we felt there was a need for it."
Other similar programs are growing across the region and the nation. This trend could indicate that the food industry is moving away from huge chains and back to a grassroots, family-centered distribution method.
Hospitality and restaurant industry piece brought to you by Marlin Equipment Finance, leaders in food service equipment financing. Marlin is a nationwide provider of equipment financing solutions supporting equipment suppliers and manufacturers in the security, food services, healthcare, information technology, office technology and telecommunications sectors.