4 Tips to Chill the Hottest Challenges in Refrigerated & Frozen Foods
Refrigerated & frozen foods are more readily available than ever. Their popularity has grown as consumers have become busier and look for more quick, convenient meals and snacks. Whether it’s pre-chopped vegetables or ready-made meals, your customers are well accustomed to frozen and fresh foods being a staple part of their diets. As food demand continues to rise with population growth, the cold food manufacturing market will increase by $262.3 million according to Cold Planers Market Report.
This expected growth forces refrigerated & frozen food manufacturers to stay on their toes and look for new ways to keep up with the demand and maintain product quality – while still searching for vital cost savings. Here are four key challenges in the industry and how to overcome them.
Challenge #1: Avoiding Spoilage of Products
The conditions in a facility can make or break the quality of their products. Different products require unique temperatures to keep them from spoiling. You have to closely monitor, regulate and maintain both humidity and temperature in your storage facility to extend your products’ life as much as possible.
Tip 1: It’s critical always to have someone onsite to manage the entire temperature system and make proper adjustments if temperature or humidity fluctuates. This person needs to understand the freezing temperature protocols for all of your different products to avoid spoilage.
Challenge #2: Keeping Up with Increased Demand
In a sector like frozen & refrigerated & frozen food manufacturing, factors like price and on-time delivery are critical to your organization’s success. On-time delivery has been particularly important during this year’s health crisis. Retailers have had to respond to sudden increases and fluctuations in demand from consumers, especially for frozen & refrigerated foods.
Research by Credit Suisse showed that frozen food sales spiked by 79% shortly after COVID-19 lockdowns began. And they believe that frozen & refrigerated food consumption will remain elevated over the next 12 months as consumers choose to keep eating food at home to save money.
Many organizations are responding to this volatile environment by rethinking their training strategies. You have to navigate the challenge of increasing your workforce’s productivity to meet consumer demand while maintaining a safe work environment.
Tip 2: It’s critical to leverage a robust training system to onboard new workers and continuously train employees.
What does a successful onboarding program look like? Your new hires will be more engaged, and you will be able to get them up to speed with your seasoned hires much more quickly. And you can reduce turnover! According to HR consulting firm Aon Hewitt, 87% of employees are less likely to leave a company when they are engaged workers.
Creating role-specific training plans is essential for getting the most out of your workforce and providing them with the knowledge and skills they need to perform their work safely.
Challenge #3: Moist Conditions Fosters Pathogen Development in Food Products
Food manufacturing is a risky business. It’s essential to have thorough hygiene and sanitation protocols in your facility to avoid contamination and protect public safety. Moist conditions in production environments often create growth niches where pathogens can flourish and contaminate finished product even under refrigerated temperatures.
For serious foodborne illness outbreaks involving injury or death, the Department of Justice and FDA have conducted joint investigations. They have filed criminal charges based on evidence showing that companies are knowingly producing or handling food in an unsafe way.
Tip 3: It’s critical to have a food safety education program developed and implemented at your facility. Without training, employees may not understand that standing water or other environmental conditions encourages the growth of pathogens like Listeria monocytogenes and should be reported right away.
A well-structured food safety training program will ensure your employees help maintain a sanitary production environment. Building a food safety culture through training will encourage employees to practice preventive actions on their own and reduce the odds of your organization becoming a recall statistic.
Challenge #4: Strict Government Regulations and Industry Standards
The Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) introduced expanded regulations at every step of the supply chain — from growers to processors to transportation — for food manufacturers that are temperature controlled for safety. Both the standards and enforcement have become stronger ever since.
As FDA inspectors conduct inspections, they are inspecting to the FSMA rules. Any facility that is non-compliant could be subject to further regulatory action which could include costly product recalls and loss of reputation.”
Maintaining GFSI certification is a considerable undertaking for the food manufacturing industry. Nonetheless, with the potential to improve performance, promote safer food, and attract larger customers, the payoff is well worth the effort.
Of course, ensuring your operations are consistently up to GFSI standards is no easy feat. Fortunately, technology can help you streamline compliance and automate critical tasks such as audit prep.
Tip 4: No matter where your facilities and supply chain stand on FSMA compliance, it’s necessary to fully understand the risks, develop a documented plan, and encourage food safety and sanitation buy-in across the entire organization.
It’s also imperative to have a system in place to quickly provide documentation of employee training on cleaning, sanitation, temperature control, and other processes. These employee records should be well-organized, detailed, and up to date.
Refrigerated and frozen food processors should make use of all available resources to assist in understanding and achieving FSMA compliance.
Ensuring frontline workers are trained on all aspects of compliance will make a huge difference in how effectively your operation performs. Check out our Building a Solid Training Program eBook to learn how to create an effective training and engagement program at your facility.