FA&M 2016: Key Messages – Food is a People Business

The 2016 Food Automation & Manufacturing Conference held at Fort Myers, Florida, had a theme of Innovation and Operational Excellence. The FA&M presenters encouraged processors to adopt cultures that emphasise food safety, caring and information.

FA&M 2016

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Many of the presentations held during the conference were focused on people. This is unsurprising, seeing how people are currently central to the many challenges facing the food industry.

A People Business

Exploring how available technology is increasingly applied in manufacturing and how that affects employees was the subject for the keynote address delivered by vice president of General Mills, Gregg Stredonsky. Unlike certain fast food companies who plan to replace staff with robots, he focused on employees as the key to success.

Culture of Caring

Stredonsky asked himself why some companies were more successful than others and determined that for a food processing plant, the most important aspects were safety and taking care of people. This is what is meant by a culture of caring, which involves having faith in employees and engaging with them.

To be a great leader is to focus on safety, he said. Maintaining the established standards, leading investment opportunities and embracing food manufacturing as a people business is key to creating a culture of both caring and excellence.

Good Hygiene Practice

Replacing used food machinery regularly is just one practice of good food hygiene that production plants should adhere to https://www.food.gov.uk/business-industry/food-hygiene. Food machinery is only beneficial if it is clean and fully functioning, and companies such as http://www.clarkefussellsbrokerage.co.uk/ buy and sell this type of machinery.

Marques Young, Unilever Maintenance Manager echoed Stedonsky’s thoughts when he stated that there is no better reminder that food and beverage manufacturing is a people business than during recruitment. Huge problems lie in the staffing of food plants, due to issues such as an aging population who take their expertise with them when they retire. At the same time, food manufacturing is economically expanding. Making these jobs attractive to 18 to 24 year olds is challenging but essential for the industry to survive.

Concentrating on employees and empowering them to take responsibility, hold both themselves and others accountable, lead, make decisions, take action, take initiative, challenge the cultural norm, give input and be flexible will create a strategy for continuous business improvement.

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