The Dynamic Evolution of the Food Manufacturing Industry: A Look Back in 2023

By: Gus Bageanis

In the transformative landscape of 2023, the food manufacturing industry witnessed a series of remarkable developments across various sectors, reflecting resilience, adaptability, and an unwavering commitment to innovation.

Automation: Revolutionizing Efficiency and Collaboration

In the realm of automation, the year unfolded with significant highlights, showcasing the industry’s pivotal role in driving efficiency and innovation. To kick off 2023, Harley Green, Director of Business Development at Soft Robotics Inc., provided insights in a podcast from the Association for Advancing Automation, shedding light on trends and challenges in food processing automation. The integration of cutting-edge technologies like machine vision and AI gained prominence, particularly in turnkey automation systems known for their swift deployment and adaptability to changing consumer preferences.

The collaboration between the automation and food processing sectors emphasized a synergy, and as AI and machine learning continued their revolution, the AI market within the food and beverage sector was projected to reach $29.94 billion in 2023.  Did we hit it?

Gray Solutions, a leading provider of engineering and construction services, achieved outstanding rankings, showcasing their commitment to excellence and trailblazing in innovative automation solutions.

These collective highlights illustrated the dynamic and collaborative nature of the automation industry, showcasing a commitment to staying at the forefront of technological advancements, driving efficiency, and shaping the future of automation.

Snacks: Strategic Moves and Consumer-Centric Innovation

In the snacks industry, strategic moves and achievements took center stage, underlining the sector’s commitment to evolution and consumer-centric innovation. JM Smucker’s groundbreaking $5.6 billion acquisition of Hostess Brands positioned the company for a robust start, showcasing determination to navigate the snacks market with strength and resilience.

TreeHouse Foods, under CEO Steve Oakland’s leadership, shifted focus to high-quality products aligning with social standards. Wells Enterprises demonstrated adaptability by acknowledging evolving consumer preferences, addressing the rise in demand for fruity flavors and plant-based ice cream.

These developments underscored the resilience and proactive approach of the snacks industry, showcasing its ability to navigate challenges and stay attuned to the evolving dynamics of the market.

Ingredients: Adaptability, Talent Demands, and Innovation

In the ingredients industry, adaptability and commitment to innovation were at the forefront. Ingredion Incorporated’s efforts to maintain the affordability of consumer packaged goods set a positive tone amid rising inflation. The industry experienced a surge in demand for top talent, highlighting the need for skilled professionals in roles such as Plant/Production Managers, Quality Assurance Managers, Food Scientists, Engineers, and Sales Representatives.

A pronounced shift towards automation and technology integration was observed, with companies actively seeking professionals capable of harnessing cutting-edge technologies. Symrise AG reported double-digit organic growth, while Kerry Ingredients revolutionized sugar reduction with the Tastesense Advanced portfolio, reflecting a commitment to success and innovation despite market volatility.

These developments underscored the resilience and forward-thinking nature of the ingredients industry, demonstrating a commitment to staying ahead of the curve and meeting the evolving needs of consumers and the broader food manufacturing landscape.

Dairy: Sustainability, Innovation, and Resilience

In the dynamic landscape of the dairy industry, noteworthy events unfolded, reflecting the sector’s resilience and commitment to innovation. Tillamook County Creamery Association received recognition as the 2022 Dairy Processor of the Year, exemplifying excellence in longevity, sales growth, and sustainability efforts.

Sargento Foods Inc. underwent significant leadership changes to drive innovation, while Danone set ambitious sustainability goals, pledging to reduce methane emissions and achieve net-zero emissions. Dairy Farmers of America (DFA) took a proactive stance, exploring sustainability opportunities in their Denmark location, showcasing a commitment to earth-conscious innovation.

The dairy industry continued to make strides towards sustainability and consumer-centric innovation, demonstrating its adaptability and forward-thinking approach in navigating the challenges of 2023.

Meat: Transformative Trends, Sustainability, and Technological Advancements

In the meat industry’s landscape, 2023 unfolded with transformative trends, emphasizing sustainability and technological advancements. The rise of plant-based alternatives and the concept of cultivating meat in labs showcased the industry’s continuous innovation. Political transitions, such as a pork farmer securing the position of Nebraska governor, highlighted the industry’s expanding influence.

Despite projected challenges, positive notes were struck, emphasizing the potential for poultry producers to improve margins and expanded product portfolios mitigating economic downturns. Leading meat companies like Tyson Foods invested in new facilities, contributing to job creation and showcasing confidence in the industry.

The broader theme of sustainability emerged, with Tyson Foods collaborating with Protix to transform food byproducts into insect proteins and lipids. This forward-thinking approach exemplified the meat industry’s commitment to shaping a future aligned with evolving consumer preferences and global trends.


2023 was a year marked by collaboration, resilience, and innovation across the food manufacturing industry. From automation to snacks, ingredients, dairy, and meat, each sector demonstrated a commitment to staying ahead of the curve, navigating challenges, and shaping a future that aligns with evolving consumer preferences and global trends.

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