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  • Hugo Walker

The FDF’s Innovation Gateway launches to assist with automation roll-out



The Food and Drink Federation (FDF) has launched a new programme that will provide food and beverage businesses with easily accessible advice to help implement and navigate tech. The Innovation Gateway will be available to FDF members through an online portal that will link firms to experts from the likes of the Manufacturing Technology Centre and the University of Lincoln.


This comes as automation and digitisation at both the production and retail level of the food industry is gathering momentum. The FDF indicate that purchases of robots within the industry have increased by over 33% since 2019. Meanwhile, food-tech pundits are encouraging food businesses to adopt Industry 4.0 to foster resilience and profitability in volatile times. With the current climate of unstable supply chains and increasing costs, technology and digitisation can help food producers and retailers meet these challenges head-on.


Automation is being promoted to SMEs in particular, who are less likely to have advanced technology than large firms due to the initial cost and lack of resources. However, programs such as the Innovation Gateway and the increasing accessibility of technology means that SMEs can catch up to their larger counterparts.


Steve Barton, chair of the FDF’s Technology Forum, and the project director of ABF Grocery Group commented: “The Innovation Gateway makes it easy to quickly identify the best automation and technology solutions. This is increasingly important as we manage decarbonisation, rising energy costs and commodity price volatility. Completing one online form connects food businesses to an independent specialist to help find the right partner to step-change their productivity and efficiency.”


Karen Better, chief executive of the FDF, said: “The FDF is proud to have established the Innovation Gateway that we’re launching today. It will offer practical support to food and drink companies across the UK to help them to harness the opportunities that technology can offer. By investing in digital capability, food and drink businesses will be able to improve the productivity and sustainability of our companies and our supply chain - critical investment both in future growth and in the resilience of our industry.”