How Robotics Could Transform The Food Industry

Robots like this could soon transform the UK's food industry according to a recent report

The potential power of robotics in the food industry knows no bounds as manufacturers become increasingly reliant on artificial intelligence to boost production.

A new ING report has revealed an astonishing 50% increase in the sale of robotics to the food industry over the last five years. And the catalyst for this appears to be the savvy demands of retailers and consumers alike. While the former require large volumes of food at low prices, the latter are concerned with matters of health and sustainability which AI can facilitate more easily than a human.

Such ever-expanding demands have thus become a driving force for the implementation of new technologies, such as robotisation and digitalisation. As a result, food producers are able to increase productivity and overall standards at an unprecedented, speedy rate.

Moreover, food manufacturing technology has become increasingly sophisticated with robots now able to see and feel. This allows them to handle a range of delicate products while also functioning in diverse environments (which may vary from heat and moisture to the cold).

The consumer benefits greatly too as the reduced need for human interference guarantees a lowered risk of contamination. Robotics can therefore offer the widely coveted Farm to Fork transparency - allowing consumers to trace the exact origin of everything in their shopping trolley.

Not only that but advances in data technology mean manufacturers are able to plan their processes more efficiently and better predict farm supplies. In effect, this means supplies and demands can be more carefully and intelligently coordinated.

Thijs Geijer, senior economist at ING, says: “Consumers and society expect healthier and more sustainable food while food manufacturers want to make production as efficient as possible.

“The use of robots and data technology can serve both.”

Mr Geiger added that the developments did not necessarily spell bad news for humans working in the food industry.

He said: “Some jobs will disappear, others will change and new jobs will be created. That’s why investment in technology should go hand in hand with investment in human capital.”

The report was also quick to point out the financial benefits of investing in robotics. Despite initially high upfront costs, the investment threshold for digitalisation is low enough to remain accessible to food producers. Experts are adamant that an investment in technology and data can only improve the affordability, quality and safety standards of food being sold on supermarket shelves.