A question of equipment

PPMA Show 2021. Photo: Suzanne Christiansen

It was an easy question to aim at the machinery suppliers to the dairy industry that were at the PPMA Show in Birmingham, UK at the NEC last week: how was their supply chain coming along?

A manufacturer of robots chuckled when I asked about semiconductors. A provider of equipment said, I think I’m going to ask the fabricators, when I asked where the steel that made up his machines came from.* Another one detailed their warehousing situation and how they have been stocking up from the plants on the Continent, in advance of the autumn/winter. Recycling and the way the UK collects its recyclable items was another topic.

It seems nowadays in business, one needs a crystal ball to see what’s next – I await the flooding that is the new normal for parts of the UK as autumn and winter gets underway. There’s always another pandemic, or a ship stuck in the Suez Canal, or even an erupting volcano somewhere that you’d think wouldn’t cause issues, but then it does.

That being said, all noted that the British food industry is busy busy busy in the UK. Machinery suppliers are working flat out to supply the products for processors to use to fill packages and get them out.

Food processors are speeding up to get supplies to the nation’s tables, and working to fill any gaps. As one put it, the UK is a 68-million-person country. It’s a large market. Germany is 84 million. Of course, the EU is 448 million or thereabouts – a larger market. But still, the UK is not small beer when it comes to consumption.

Interestingly, one supplier to the suppliers told me that the UK has a very large collection of small and medium enterprises, versus other countries. There is a large portion of legacy buildings countrywide, where just putting a new piece of equipment can quickly cause issues with spacing. More things to think about.

Still, people set up shop and decide that new products have to be introduced. I applaud their energy and enthusiasm, as it’s a challenge at the best of times. And these are interesting times.

 

(*Ed note: the British steel industry contributes £2 billion to the economy per year and it produces seven million tons of steel. China makes about 900 million tons. Dairy is worth £4.4 billion and produces 15.3 billion litres annually. The UK is the 13th largest dairy producer in the world. Source: House of Commons Library)

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