The food and beverage industry is increasingly turning to industrial robots and automation to improve the production process, according to a new analysis by Research and Markets.

Over the next five years the global industrial robotics market in the food and beverage industry is predicted to grow at an annual rate of almost 29 percent.

Industrial robots have a wide range of applications in the industry, ranging from pick and place and processing to packaging and palletizing.

Robots can operate at a faster pace than human labor and are particularly suitable for dull, repetitive and dangerous jobs. The technology can also reduce wastage and downtime of plants and ensure clean and contamination-free production areas.

Robots for deboning meat were developed by the nonprofit Georgia Tech Research Institute (GTRI) in 1999, while in 2006 Swedish-based DeLaval developed the world’s first robotic rotary dairy. Since then there has been an exponential increase in adoption of robots in the food and beverage industry, Research and Markets said.

Holding the market back to some extent is the high initial cost of the technology, but demand is high in countries such as Japan, the United States, South Korea and Australia.

ABB, FANUC, Kawasaki Robotics, KUKA and Yaskawa Electric are among the leading vendors. Other prominent vendors featured in the report are Adept Technology, Denso Robotics, Epson Robotics, Nachi Fujikoshi, Pari Technology, Staubli Robotics and Yamaha Robotics.