Author: Mike Brandt, published in Motion + Drives magazine Agri & Food production issue
In today’s world of nearly 8 billion people, food production looks very different than it did in the recent past, and many immediate changes are directly correlated to the Covid-19 pandemic. From growth to harvest, to packaging and transport, food producers depend on reliable PT applications to meet changing consumer needs and growing population demands.
Currently, there is a greater importance on the efficiency of global agriculture and food production. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, the Covid-19 pandemic may have pushed an additional 83-132 million people into chronic hunger in 2020 alone.
Increased demand, material shortages, and rapidly changing consumer behaviors have driven food production to the maximum. There is now an intensified focus on healthier, immune-boosting food options, cleanliness, and bulk foods purchased for at home meal preparation. Additionally, crippled supply chains have created a strengthened desire to source locally, a concept that parallels re-shoring efforts taking place in other industries.
While the homogeneous link between agriculture and food manufacturing is on full display in the wake of the pandemic, global food producers are accustomed to constant increases in demand, acclimation to societal trends, and meeting higher food safety standards.
Some 50 years ago, the global population numbered 3.8 billion, and today that figure has more than doubled. In 2019, global crop production yielded a staggering 9.4 billion tons, an increase of more than 53% from the year 2000. Within the same time period, production of vegetable oils more than doubled, and at 337 million tons, meat production rose 44%.
In conjunction with heightened demand, sustainability has been an imperative element. The UN general assembly released the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable (Global) Development, and to no surprise, food production is at the heart of the plan. An emphasis on sustainable production requires PT solution providers to supply high performance, energy efficient products that reduce environmental footprints, while simultaneously meeting performance requirements.
Farms that use heavy machinery for production are embracing autonomous electric vehicles and robotics, alongside the evolving changes within transportation. Processing facilities are implementing new material requirements that need minimal servicing, including improvements to stainless steel components, composite and epoxy coated PT systems, motors, controls, and gearing. Conveyer solutions are moving to operate without lubrication, and many more innovations are on the horizon.
With continuous population growth and richer diets, the food you eat today can follow a supply chain for thousands of miles, and the emergence of biotechnology has led to significant investment by the private sector. Growth in food engineering and agricultural R&D are creating more options for consumers. It can be expected that alongside the implications of the Covid-19 pandemic, food demand will continue to rise, sustainable production will remain at the forefront, in turn increasing the need for new innovative PT solutions that support production.
As agriculture and food manufacturing intersects every corner of the globe, buyer and supplier connections are an integral part of the future. To help meet the spike in recent demand and promote healthy growth, iMotion Events is organizing the Agriculture & Food Production matchmaking meetings. On April 13-15, Power Transmission and Motion Control professionals will connect globally, through a carefully designed hybrid event structure that aims to maximize both online and in person matchmaking opportunities.