Application of science and technology by the South African food and beverage industry
Significant shifts in the type of foods consumed by South Africans have taken place since 1994 and packaged food and beverage innovation has accelerated since then. Globally, advances in science and technology have benefitted food processing and food manufacturing technologies and systems. Significant capital investments have been made by the South African food and beverage manufacturing industry (SAFBMI). It is, however, not clear which technology areas have received investments and for what purposes. The objective of this study was thus to understand how the SAFBMI has invested in and applied science and technology since 1994. Data were sourced from food and beverage trade magazines, dating from 1986 to 2012. Trends over the past 30 years were analysed to determine the application of science and technology. The findings suggest that the dairy, soft drinks and bakery sectors have been most active. The main advances were to upgrade manufacturing facilities and build new plants to increase capacity, deliver new products and improve efficiencies and product quality and safety. Investments to improve thermal processing and packaging were also noted. We found evidence of the application of commercially available new preservation technologies and a low level of experimentation with non-commercial novel technologies by the SAFBMI. South Africa appears to be keeping pace with advances in food manufacturing in automation, process control and quality and food safety practices, material handling, and centralised distribution centres with warehouse management systems. Continued investment in food science and technology research will ensure that the growing consumer demand for packaged foods and beverages is met.
- Although South Africa is keeping pace with science and technology advances in its food and beverage manufacturing operations, the need to continue to conduct and apply science and technology research, especially in novel processing, is highlighted.
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