ARC automation expenditures in food industryAutomation expenditures in the food and beverage industry are expected to reach $7 billion by 2016 as information architecture “is becoming an important solution in the drive toward mass customization,” according to a new report from ARC Advisory Group.

The report, titled “Automation Expenditures for Food and Beverage Worldwide Outlook,” examines the market for automation products and systems in food and beverage products and ingredients manufacturing and the factors contributing to the growth and deployment of specific products and systems.

ARC found the major areas of focus in food and beverage manufacturing are margin protection and cost containment; innovation and time to profitability; food safety; more sustainable manufacturing focused on energy usage and waste reduction; and minimizing brand risk.

Additionally, packaging is becoming increasingly important as an emotional selling point due to intense competition and more difficulty in achieving sustainable competitive advantage via functional differentiation, the report states.

Since most consumer packaged goods (CPG) companies have similar business strategies, flawless and timely execution differentiates leading companies from their competitors. The convergence of food safety, sustainable manufacturing and new regulatory requirements is leading to unprecedented levels of accountability and the evolution to the transparent enterprise, according to ARC.

“The information architecture is extending its reach all the way to the consumer by way of social networks and a new generation of 3-D virtual online shopping and online product customization tools,” said Principal Analyst for the CPG Industries and the report’s principle author John Blanchard. “It is becoming an important solution in the drive toward mass customization and has begun to change the way consumer facing business is conducted.”