Food manufacturers

How often do food manufacturers cite digitization in public documents?

Mentions of digitization in public documents from food manufacturers have declined year over year, according to an analysis of the latest research from GlobalData.

The number of times the topic was cited fell 51% in the fourth quarter of 2021 compared to the corresponding period of 2020, according to GlobalData, the parent company of Just Food.

However, for the whole of 2021, the frequency of digitization-related convictions was 210% higher than in 2016, when GlobalData began tracking top issues mentioned in company documents.

When food manufacturers publish annual and quarterly reports, ESG reports and other documents, GlobalData analyzes the text and identifies individual phrases related to the disruptive forces the companies will face in the years to come. Digitization is one such topic. Companies that excel and invest in these areas are considered better prepared for the future business landscape and better equipped to overcome unforeseen challenges.

To assess whether digitalization features more in food manufacturers’ summaries and strategies, GlobalData calculates two metrics. It looks at the percentage of companies that mentioned digitization at least once in their filings over the last twelve months – this figure was 79% compared to 42% in 2016. The company also calculates the percentage of phrases referring to digitization.

Among the ten largest employers in the food and beverage industry, Nestlé is the company that most referred to digitization in 2021. GlobalData identified 151 digitization-related convictions in the Swiss-based company’s records, i.e. 2.4% of all convictions. Unilever mentioned digitization in second place – the problem was mentioned in 0.9% of sentences in documents filed by the FMCG group. PepsiCo, Grupo Bimbo and Itochu are among the other top employers with high digitization mentions.

Of all the food manufacturing companies, the record released in the fourth quarter of 2021 that placed the most emphasis on digitization came from US manufacturer Simply Good Foods. Of the 1,488 sentences in the document, 13 (0.9%) referred to digitization.

In the last quarter, food manufacturing companies based in Western Europe were the most likely to mention digitization with 0.5% of sentences in company filings referencing the issue. In contrast, companies headquartered in the United States mentioned digitization in just 0.4% of sentences.

This analysis provides a rough indication of which companies are focusing on digitization and how important the issue is in the food and beverage industry, but it also has limitations and should be interpreted with caution. For example, a company that mentions digitization more regularly is not necessarily evidence that it is using new techniques or prioritizing the problem, nor does it indicate whether the company’s businesses in the digitization have been successes or failures.

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