The number of times cybersecurity was mentioned in filings by food and beverage companies was 40% higher in the fourth quarter of 2021 than a year earlier, according to analysis by GlobalData.
And, in total, the frequency of cybersecurity-related convictions in 2021 was 179% higher than in 2016, when GlobalData, the parent company of Just Food, began tracking a series of key issues cited in filings by businesses.
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. Cybersecurity 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 cybersecurity features more in food manufacturers’ summaries and strategies, GlobalData calculates two metrics. It looks at the percentage of companies that have mentioned cybersecurity at least once in their filings over the last twelve months – this figure was 71% compared to 49% in 2016. The company also calculates the percentage of sentences referring to cybersecurity.
Among the ten largest employers in the food and beverage industry, BRF was the company that made the most cybersecurity references in 2021. GlobalData identified 18 cybersecurity-related convictions in the Brazil-based company’s records, or 0.4% of all convictions. PepsiCo mentioned cybersecurity in second place – the issue was mentioned in 0.2% of sentences in company filings. Other top employers with high cybersecurity ratings include meat giant WH Group, agribusiness Wilmar and Unilever.
Of all the food manufacturing companies, the filing released in the fourth quarter of 2021 that placed the most emphasis on cybersecurity came from U.S. manufacturer BellRing Brands. Of the 1,215 sentences in the document, 15 (1.2%) referred to cybersecurity.
GlobalData also categorizes cybersecurity mentions according to a series of subtopics. Of these subtopics, the most frequently mentioned topic in Q4 2021 was “data security,” which accounted for 91% of all cybersecurity subtopic mentions by food manufacturing companies.
This analysis provides a rough indication of which companies are focusing on cybersecurity and how big the issue is within the food and beverage industry, but it also has limitations and should be interpreted with caution. For example, a company that mentions cybersecurity more regularly is not necessarily evidence that it is using new techniques or prioritizing the issue, nor does it indicate whether the company’s businesses in the field of cybersecurity have been successes or failures.