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What does the future hold for the meat processing industry in the UK?

In this article, PIF speaks to Foodex about the latest meat processing trends following their 2018 Foodex exhibition at the NEC in April. Foodex is the UK’s leading trade event for the food and drink processing, packaging and logistics industries. People and business travel from all over the world to the bi-annual Foodex exhibition to discover a wide range of new food and beverage technological innovations. Read on to discover the event planners’ thoughts on the future of the meat processing industry in the UK.

The challenge

An increased popularity in plant-based products and diets is creating new challenges for manufacturers in the meat and seafood industries. With over a quarter (28%) of meat eating Brits reported to have reduced or limited their meat consumption in the last six months, an increasing movement towards ‘flexitarianism’ is being noted whereby consumers sit comfortably between the meat-eaters and non-meat eaters, by making a conscious effort to reduce their meat intake.

The solution

The meat sector has long remained a traditional category with low levels of innovation versus other fresh food sectors. However, in response to changing consumer diets and rising concerns about sustainability and waste, a number of trends are gaining traction. Free-range, high-quality meats are more in favour with the health-conscious and ethically-minded consumer, whilst portion packaging and frozen formats, which help reduce both food and packaging waste, is in high demand.

The result

Exhibitors at Foodex 2018 shone a spotlight on the pressing trends impacting the meat sector. A range of weighing, packing and inspection solutions for the food industry (from single machines to wall-to-wall solutions) were showcased, helping manufacturers reduce costs and downtime, increase efficiencies and maximise profits.

Packaging solutions

On the stand at the show, the Ishida team presented its high-performance tray sealer and AirScan technology, which uses laser technology to identify leaks of CO2 from holes as small as 0.25mm in sealed Modified Atmosphere Packaging (MAP) packs at speeds of up to 180 ppm, thus significantly reducing spoilage, complaints, returns and fines and increasing shelf life and brand reputation.

Helping manufacturers meet new packaging trends such as portion packaging, Automated Packaging Systems Ltd (stand X299) showcased its SidePouch FAS SPrint Revolution offering maximum flexibility, functionality and reliability for food packaging. This versatile system accommodates a wide variety of products, bag sizes and loading methods, including one or more operators, automatic infeed systems such as weights and counters to increase accuracy and productivity.

Labelling resolutions

Inspiron Labelling Solutions Ltd (stand Q329) showcased its Automatic Weigh Price Labellers enabling manufacturers to calculate cooking times, run in either catch weight or average weight mode with EC Type Approval. Its intuitive software also enables label designs to be created directly at the machine or remotely, saving time and helping manufacturers meet labelling regulations.

Dining trends

Dining trends are also seeing consumers eating out more often and for a wider range of occasions. This has led to a considerable market growth in the restaurant sector, while 50% of consumers now purchase street food at least once a week, with more than 20% buying it three times a week. Offering its high-quality catering equipment ideal for outdoor events, Tasty Trotter Event Supplies (stand N240) showcased its professional spit roasting oven and its large hog roast oven that can feed up to 350 people for less than £1.00 per head.


Foodex is a one-stop shop for manufacturing professionals across the full industry spectrum. The show shone a light on top trends across the food manufacturing sectors: from improving traceability and consumer trust, transforming productivity and highlighting the latest new ingredients and super foods to make an impression on the industry. Speaking about the appeal of the show for meat processors, Dan Dixon, Event Director, said:

“Trends relating to the consumption of meat and seafood products represents a major shift in consumer behaviour. Foodex presents the best opportunity to discover the latest innovations, technologies and talented individuals working to improve the sector, challenging new thinking and ensuring high-quality, safe products are available for consumers to purchase. We’ll shortly be announcing our live event programme and we’re confident visitors to Foodex interested in the meat sectors will have plenty to learn from, listen to and debate – challenging new thinking and celebrating tradition at the NEC in Birmingham.”

To learn more about Foodex or to take part in their 2020 show visit the Foodex website. To learn more about the food and beverage industry click here and view all PIF articles on the topic.

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