What does Brexit mean for the future of the food industry?

Whichever side of the Brexit argument you believe, Brexit poses some serious challenges for the food industry, which are predicted to be at their most severe within the next six months to a year, according to a new survey by EEF, The Manufacturers Organisation.

Whilst it’s still early days the value of Sterling has certainly fallen and there is a talk of recession on its way.  Is this good or bad for the food industry?

On the one hand a weaker pound helps exports. On the other a fall in the Pound will make many inputs more expensive. A combination of higher volumes with lower margins will make cost control more important than ever.

One input cost that’s definitely linked to the Pound is that of natural gas. Unless consumption shrinks dramatically (due to a steep recession), a lower Pound almost certainly means a rise in the cost of energy. If energy is a significant part of your overall costs, that’s not good.

So what should the Energy Manager do?  Here are our two mantras to remember as the Pound falls and energy costs rise:

 “Know thyself”

It might sound obvious but it’s amazing how many people with large energy costs don’t measure their energy and water consumption and so don’t have a clear picture of their usage patterns and where the money’s going. As a result opportunities worth hundreds of thousands of pounds are going unnoticed. Luckily measuring and monitoring is getting cheaper and easier to install all the time and in many cases your gas and power supplier can graph your half-hourly use for you automatically. For those looking for more in-depth analysis of their site there are a range of metering options out there from single logging non-invasive clamp on meters to full web based monitoring and targeting packages covering all utilities.

 “Sense check”

After major energy consumption is mapped out it can be systematically worked through,  starting with the highest users, and sense checking against benchmarks. All factories have inefficient pieces of plant that have been overlooked for years while bigger problems are fixed, but now with suitable monitoring these previously unquantified opportunities can be paid some attention.

  • Should consumption be so high for such a small part of the plant? Does this equipment need to be on all the time?
  • Do temperature set points need to be that high (or low)? Does the duty/standby regime for those boilers still make sense 10 years after it was started?
  • Is there any obsolete equipment that could be replaced for a sensible return?

    A systematic comb through the equipment list, checking consumption to value, will find the most obvious errors and savings that can be made to start you on the way to running a tight energy ship.