Impact of the Economic Downturn on Employment in the Food Manufacturing Industry

The impact of the downturn on employment in the Food Manufacturing Industry today is worldwide. The US processed food sector had steady growth in the ten year period after 1997, with slight decline near the end. Many employed in the food manufacturing industry are multinationals. Growth in processed food goods can be attributed to several factors, including two income families, less time at home for food preparation, and more take home and restaurant food purchases. Over that ten year period, the value of food shipments increased about 27 percent.

Many smaller food manufacturing companies are hit harder by economic downturns. They employ fewer people in food jobs; pay more for food products, deliveries, and for manufacturing costs than large companies. The few large companies hire more multinationals, who account for about a third of all food industry jobs. About 89 percent of the smaller companies have less than 100 workers. Many smaller companies are swallowed up in acquisitions by large companies.

The impact of the economic downturn on employment in the Food Manufacturing Industry affects automation and technology purchasing also, as these allow companies to operate at even higher output levels with fewer employees, adding to less employment in food manufacturing jobs. Employment in that ten year period declined about 5 percent. Wages and salaries showed virtually no increase when compared to the general economy (US) which had a projected growth of 11 percent.

Supermarkets have added more prepared meals to their shelves, and people want ready to serve snacks and frozen entrees. This demand is caused by two parent or single parent working families who have possibly more income yet less time for food preparation. It is not uncommon for families to eat out several times a week on a regular basis instead of just on special occasions. An aging population and a dieting population has also contributed to the demand for convenience foods, ready to eat, and restaurant foods. As ethnic populations of countries change with immigration, so do demands on the food manufacturing industry. A green trend towards eating locally produced food, organic foods, and medical allergy problems also affect food product demands and manufacturing costs.

Rising cost of fuel such as gasoline has also caused the impact of the economic downturn on employment in the Food Manufacturing Industry. A worldwide jump in costs for grains and vegetables has caused shortages of certain products and high prices everywhere. Some industries, like milk in the UK, are cutting back products and employment as costs rise. The fight over corn and grains for food or fuel has costs skyrocketing, with a boomerang effect on items like beef, which not only has encountered rising costs for feed, but transportation and processing. The plumping of humans causes another increase in vegetable prices, as people want more products; it is a supply and demand plus costs situation there.

Rising cost of ingredients has put the hammer down on small companies, like mom and pop bakeries or bagel companies, because they are unable to absorb high prices of ingredients like flour or wheat. They raise prices, and may lay off employees to combat costs, where the larger producers can find ways to absorb increases in commodity prices. Combine the stress of food product demands with rising energy costs and any adverse weather conditions, and the industry cannot help but feel the pinch and react by lowering employment overall.

During the past few years, there have been several catastrophic weather events, such as hurricanes, tsunamis, and earthquakes, which have wreaked havoc in people’s normal living conditions. The ability to obtain food, and to grow food is impacted by this, and with higher energy costs and higher food demands worldwide, the cost of all food products has risen. Competition between animals and humans is another factor, and so is competition between animal food stocks and fuel demands. Alternative energy sources, like solar and wind, and hybrid engines are one answer. To use food for fuel seems to go against basic human sensibilities and interest. Using corn and wheat to power machines instead of humans will only increase food prices and lessen employment in the industry.

For the future, there is widespread demand to get away from high costs of oil fuels, and to develop “free” fuels for powering machinery and electricity. Food production technology is an ongoing science that does increase output per acre, a major benefit to the world food supply. The weather, however, is beyond control. All that can be done in that area is better long term forecasting, and crop science improvements in output and planting techniques. There should be some increases in worldwide employment in those areas. The Food Manufacturing Industry, like many others in this modern age, must adjust and revise plans and make improvements to maintain its lifeblood.

Copyright (c) 2008 Ianson Internet Marketing

Food Production Lines

All food preparation, be it in a factory, restaurant of home kitchen is prepared in stages. Raw material comes in at one end and a finished product comes out of the other end. As far as I am concerned, this makes the preparation of food a production line.

I have worked in the food industry for quite some time and I know how to apply the production line principle to any situation. It is this principle which I would like to write about today.

Every production line begins with choosing the raw materials you are going to work with. You need to identify who your suppliers will be and be very clear on why you want to work with them. Firstly, you should get to know their reputation for reliability. If you have a business to run you do not want to be left without supplies. Several questions need to be asked. Is the produce fresh? Is the quality good? Is it consistently good? Is the price fair? Is it delivered in the appropriate conditions as defined by law?

Once you have chosen your suppliers your next task is to ensure that products delivered are stored in a correct manner. Frozen produce goes straight to the freezers, keeping meat and fish separate from frozen vegetables and dough products. Fresh vegetables should be stored by themselves as should meat, fish and eggs. Dry foods such as pasta, spices, canned food, flour, salt, sugar, legumes, should all be stored in a dry pantry.

In all kitchens the morning should start with the cleaning of vegetables. Some kitchens may have machines to assist workers perform these tasks, other mostly smaller kitchens will do all this by hand. In the kitchens I worked in, we had a separate enclosed department to each function so we could continue to work on all stages of food preparation all day. Smaller kitchens are not lucky enough to have this luxury so food must be prepared in stages. I strongly advise that all staff wear disposable aprons while they are cleaning vegetables fish or poultry.

After the vegetables have been cleaned and stored away the kitchen should be thoroughly cleaned and prepared for the next stage. The next logical stage would be to prepare fish and any other type of meat or poultry that needs cleaning, cutting, deboning, mincing or any other form of initial preparation. Again, the kitchen should be thoroughly cleaned before moving onto the next stage.

Once all the initial preparation and cleaning has been finished we can now concentrate on the preparation of the food dishes themselves. Remember, when preparing your menu you will still be bringing potential elements of cross contamination into the kitchen. The most dangerous of these will include eggs, milk products, tin cans, bottles and spices. You must never put any of the items that you bring into the kitchen at this stage onto the work surfaces on which you are preparing food. Always keep them on a service trolley. Remember to always wash your hands after you have touched any item which has not been cleaned during the initial preparation stages. Do not put anything like eggs directly into your food dish. Always open them into a small bowl to inspect them first taking out any egg shell that may have fallen into the egg..

Remember to implement food hygiene principles at all times. Keep meats away from salads. Do not prepare meat or fish together with vegetables that are to be served separately. Wash your hands and tools when moving from task to task.

Most of all clean your work area completely when you are plating your food. Make sure that plates are hot. Make sure that they have not come into contact with any stage of food preparation and most of all make sure that the person serving the food is both immaculately clean and in good health.

So in conclusion, the preparation of food should be undertaken in stages. Each stage should be completed and the work area cleaned before moving onto the next task. By doing this you are ensuring correct food hygiene procedure by avoiding cross contamination and by doing so bringing the risk of food poisoning down as far as is humanly possible. Knowledge, preparation, organization and attention to detail are the key to good food hygiene and quality food production. This is the job of the chef. A chef never compromises on correct food preparation procedure.

Are The Foods You Eat Making You Sick?

Some foods may give you a feeling of sickness after consuming them. Common signs of food allergies are hives or even rashes. Other people experience itchy hands and fingers, there may even be a tingling sensation. Food allergies are not particularly rare as over ten million people in America alone suffer from these ailments. Most food allergies are mild afflictions, but some allergic reactions can be fatal. Hundreds of people die each year from severe allergic reactions to foods.

Children are at the most risk because they are not fully developed yet. Also parents do not know about what food allergies their child may or may not have until one has occurred. Often times your child will out grow his or her allergies to most foods. As they grow older their body will adapt to many different kinds of foods. Keep in mind however that not all children will grow out of their food allergies. Some children will even carry these childhood food allergies into adulthood. A child that retains their ailment as they become an adult will most likely keep it with them during their entire life.

Eating at a restaurant if you have allergic reactions to some foods can be dangerous. This is because there really is no telling what exactly was put into the foods being offered. If you know what kind of food affects you, then be sure to ask a waiter or a cook what ingredients the dish you plan to order has in it. Taking this precaution could very well avoid an unwanted trip to the hospital.

Packaged foods can also be a danger for those with allergens. The key to eating packaged foods is to learn to read the labels. It is not always as easy as it sounds as some words for ingredients on labels can be different from what you know them by. You could ask a clerk for help if you are new to reading nutritional information and need to know if a certain ingredient is included so that you can avoid it.

Statistics state that eight percent of all children are or will be affected by food allergies. Adults are affected at four percent because most children grow out of their allergies as stated earlier.

One of the most common food allergens is peanuts. Foods that contain peanuts almost always warn people with food allergies whether or not the product contains them. You can find the warning usually right on the nutritional information section of the label. Also foods that are made in the same factory as peanuts will have a warning that their product may contain parts of peanuts.

Taking the proper precautions is the best way to avoid allergic reactions to foods. Just watch what you eat and read labels to make sure you are avoiding foods that can cause your body harm.

Growing Global Population Can Be Fed But Only With Radical Reforms of Food Production

As the global economy struggles to recover from the financial crisis of 2008 it is becoming increasingly evident that something radical has to change if food scarcity and skyrocketing prices are to be prevented.

It is suggested in a number of recently-published studies that leaving food production and distribution in the hands of a small number of global agribusinesses in the private sector and at the mercy of commodity price speculation helps no-one from the small farmer right through to the consumer.

According to Olivier de Schutter, the UN special rapporteur on the right to food, there has been chronic underinvestment in agriculture for the last 20 years alongside trade liberalisation, which together have resulted in low productivity and a reliance on cheap food imports in the developing world.

The result has been local farmers struggling to get a decent price for their produce in the face of competition from often subsidised cheap imports. Local farming declines, more people leave the land adding to urban populations and governments try to maintain political stability by keeping food cheap.

It is a vicious circle that leaves developing countries at the mercy of global commodity price speculation – and leaves huge numbers of people either starving or malnourished. Where profit rules, people, especially those on low incomes suffer.

Paul Polman, boss of Unilever recently gave a speech in the UK in which he argued that the focus on subsidising producers of biofuels may have been well-meaning in the context of finding alternatives to the carbon-based technology that is contributing to climate change. But he called the policy misguided in diverting land and food crops from use for food to use for biofuels.

The Foresight Report (UK) and the Agrimonde Study (France), both recently published scientific studies, suggest that it is possible to feed the 9.2 billion people expected to be the world population in 2050, but both say only if there is a revolution in food production and distribution, alongside increasing yields sustainably and reducing waste.

That might mean encouraging changes in diet in the developed world, away from the production of high-energy foods such as meat, which requires more land and diverts grains from people to animal fodder. It also means eating and throwing away less food.

It may also mean governments intervening to create larger reserve food stocks to try to cushion people from the effects of commodity price speculation on prices

The Foresight Report, particularly, says that the current system must be radically and urgently redesigned and calls for governments to put food much higher up their political agendas, co-ordinated with action on climate change, water and energy supplies.

The authors of the report contend that new research and innovative technology, including GM technology, should not be ruled out and that GM technology should be moved from the private sector to public funding to take it out of the “stranglehold” of large agribusiness companies.

Biopesticides Developers have long argued that getting their innovations, like biopesticides, biofungicides and low-chemical yield enhancers, through the testing and licensing regimes in various parts of the world can take years and involve huge costs.

Arguably this pushes these small, innovative organisations into the arms of agribusiness, which has the resources to cover the development and licensing costs. However, that could mean the end products are also beyond affordable reach for the small, developing world farmers who could most benefit from them as well as the training they would need to use them properly.

Copyright (c) 2011 Alison Withers