Fair trade, bio, green food, meat substitutes, zero waste: Consumers’ demand for higher product quality is on the rise. The sensitization of the mindset toward greater sustainability is making its mark on the food industry. At the same time, the food industry is continuing to develop due to increasing shortages and climate debates. Regional business is becoming more important and value chains are being examined.
The 5th Food Club in Cologne provided honest discussion in the food industry. More than 30 participants took the opportunity for 1.5 days to make new contacts and discuss current developments and future-oriented solutions for the industry.
The Food Club was organized by STAUFEN. and Air Liquide. Intensive exchange, networking on equal footing, and inspirational talks: At this relaxed get-together above the roofs of Cologne, the event began with soul food and drinks on June 9, 2022.
Björn Moller of Fraunhofer Institute for Systems and Innovation Research ISI kicked off the lecture series with a look into the future: “Short, local value chains best describe the food sector of tomorrow.” The challenges of the transformation to sustainable food systems can only be overcome if we work together. “Politics, retail, and consumers must all be involved.”
The next day, Udo Dauber took the participants on a practical journey of transformation with Unser Heimatbäcker Holding GmbH/Lila Bäcker. Lean Management methods were implemented here, and the transformability of a classic bakery operation was revealed. “The key for sustainable culture change is to create a new understanding among the employees and include them through process confirmation.”
Toyota is the reference for efficient productionAxel Davila lage, food and beverage, staufen.ag
In his talk, Axel Davila of Staufen AG discussed the underlying principles that are still unknown territory at many food companies and yet are universally valid. “The correct use of Lean Management not only increases efficiency, it is also in harmony with the new EU Farm to Fork strategy since it conserves resources and produces less CO2,” said the food expert
Ansgar Rinklake of Air Liquide emphasized this assessment: “Relying more heavily on automation and Lean Management is the only way for the food industry to realize potential savings.” He spoke on the topic “Automation through stabilization” and how new potential will be exploited with cryogenic cooling technology.
Finally, Clemens Hollah of DIL Deutsches Institut für Lebensmitteltechnik e. V. illuminated the topic with a future-oriented technological component: “In the future, people will want to develop automation technology. AI, I4.0, and autonomous control will leave their mark on production.” A highlight of his speech was the innovative “pick and place” gripper technology, which can help with production, even for handling fresh raspberries.
In the course of the Food Club, the experts took the opportunity to expand their knowledge horizon intensively, highlight their own production solutions, and take new inspiration home with them. Participant Peter Hack, Chair of the Executive Board of Hack AG, draws the following conclusion: “In the wake of Covid, I believe that the challenges that existed before the pandemic have proven sobering. A lack of skilled workers and flawed supply chains are driving us toward automation. In order to relieve our customers’ (here: bakeries) issues with the lack of personnel, we have to create solutions that significantly reduce complexity at the point of sales. The big opportunity of tomorrow is to DO I4.0 comprehensively!”
In summary, it can be said that production flows according to lean principles should be transferred to the food industry in order to establish a sustainable system. Here, the technological course is being set by various automation solutions. However, the transformation can only succeed if internal employees, politics, retail, and consumers are all pulling in the same direction.
About the event
Together with the German Institute of Food Technologies and Air Liquide, we had the pleasure of bringing the industry event for leaders and decision-makers back to Cologne in June 2022 after a 2-year break due to the pandemic. Economically and ecologically, efficient value streams play a central role in the future of the food industry. In the exclusive setting of Cologne’s crane houses, our participants reflected on new approaches in the food industry. Guest speakers from Fraunhofer ISI, DIL, Lila Bäcker Kuchenmanufaktur and Air Liquide presented reference images and underlying principles.
Note: The event took place in German