Strategic Planning for
Food Manufacturers Is
More Crucial Than Ever
As food manufacturers face stronger egulation and fierce competition, many recognize the need for establishing a strategic plan. This months-long
process entails looking at where you are
and where you want to go, and creating a
roadmap to get you there.
How can your plant increase production
without negatively impacting current operations? Should you invest in the capital to
modernize equipment or consider expanding your facility? How will adding product
lines or new ingredients affect your current
process controls? Is your plant prepared to
respond in the event of a food safety recall?
These are some of the questions a strategic
plan can answer.
More stringent food safety requirements,
new government regulations and changing
consumer demands often require food
processing facilities to adjust their business models. Food processors are adding
product lines, incorporating more packaging options, adjusting ingredients and
expanding product mix, all of which affect
people and processes. A strategic plan
will account for operational changes and
adjustments and determine appropriate
courses of action.
A strategic plan with clearly defined
operational goals and procedures facilitates
effective decision-making, especially where
plant design and capital expenditures are
involved. The plan should address future
growth objectives, which may include
expanding the business, introducing new
products, locations and market segments.
Food processing companies develop business plans at different stages of their life
cycle, especially in preparation to launch a
new product line, invest in a facility expansion or to identify new growth opportunities.
Conduct a thorough industry analysis to
address the specific market segment you
serve and customer wants and needs. Is the
market climbing the bell curve or well saturated? Who are the current market leaders
and what is their brand strategy? What profit margins are typical in the industry?
A manufacturing plan will identify and
assess the processes used to manufacture
the products to meet those sales goals
outlined in your business plan. Developing
a manufacturing plan requires an in-depth
analysis of the physical facility, materials,
equipment, personnel, storage, logistics
and other processes related to manufacturing. The goal is to ensure the appropriate
technology is in place and optimize current
production practices to meet sales goals.
The process of developing the plan will help
identify where constraints exist and highlight areas to improve production efficiency.
Part of the strategic planning process
entails determining your facility’s physical
and site requirements based on growth
projections. What will your food processing
facility look like in the future based on your
growth projections? Will you expand your
current facility, buy and develop adjacent
property, or will it be necessary to embark
on a greenfield project? Having a master
plan allows plant owners to make good
engineering decisions and manage capital
expenditures more efficiently by planning
for future growth requirements.
Begin by gathering data about your
plant’s current physical location and structure that will help you determine its feasibility in helping you reach strategic goals. Are
there planning and zoning issues that may
restrict growth? Will your existing facility
accommodate increase utility capacity and
process equipment? What will your future
space needs be?
Food manufacturers may also find it valuable to conduct feasibility studies focused
on asset optimization and to maximize the
income-generating potential and productivity of existing assets. By analyzing depreciation value, maintenance schedules, sanitary
design and operational history (including
downtime) of each piece of equipment,
a plant can make the necessary process
changes to increase production to meet
strategic plan goals.
Joe has more than 28 years of experience in the design, engineering and
construction of food processing plants.
Joe develops architectural and engineering standards to ensure compliance with
client procedures, government codes and
standards. Joe has managed projects for
Burris Refrigerated Logistics, General Mills/
Pillsbury Bakeries, Kraft Foods, Nestlé,
Sysco and many other brand-name food
By Joe Bove, Vice President, Design, Stellar