In 2019 Joe Needham, Director of Food and Agribusiness for the State of Ohio published a report that highlighting some of the development and innovation opportunities entrepreneurs should know about. READ REPORT
First off, understand that Ohio agribusiness sector contributes $16.4 billion to the state’s Gross State Product annually. The combined food and agribusiness contributes $124 Billion to the state’s economy.
Food industry challenges are driving the need for change and innovation. There is increased need to grow margins. As a result, automation, robotics and other technologies are in growing demand. Driven by the need to innovate, some companies are either merging or looking to purchase successful startups. At the same time, Needham states, “Small food companies have been able to build consumer trust and introduce new products better than the bigger established companies.”
Consumer preferences are changing which is driving innovation in packaging, preserving and recipes. Cold Storage is one of the most in-demand growth areas. The move to “clean labels” meaning organic, non-GMO, no additive or local is creating increased demand for refrigeration, freezing and other preservation strategies.
Needham notes there are three major technologies areas to be aware of: Data analytics, food science and operations (manufacturing, packaging, warehousing). The industry is accumulating tons of data but lacks useful data analytics. In the food science area there is the need to rethink food formulation and processing methods to meet the new clean label demands and manufacturers are in need of innovation in high-speed machinery, new packaging, warehouse robotics as well as new system to better sanitize the equipment.