The researchers said that demand in the US for disinfection and diagnostic products focused on food safety is forecast to rise 6.7 per cent per year to $2.9bn (€2.12bn) in 2014, with RFID tags in particular expected to post sales growth of 9.2 per cent annually over the next four years to reach $280m (€205m) .
The Freedonia analysts stated that this prediction is based on the ever increasing use of RFID tags for inventory tracking and management, and they also report that the market for bar code labels and tags is becoming restrained both due to a levelling off of demand, as well as continued loss of market share to RFID tags.
Processors are increasingly on the lookout for improved temperature measuring equipment for cold storage units, as regulators tighten restrictions over how foods should be safely stored.
And consumers are becoming increasingly aware of food quality, safety, origin and traceability, a factor which is exerting greater pressure on processors to keep track of every component in the manufacturing process.
Moreover, recent high-profile foodborne illness outbreaks in the US, in addition to large product recalls due to food safety concerns, will continue to fuel demand for new food safety products, claims the Freedonia report.
The analysts forecast that among the food and beverage processing sectors, the largest share of food safety product demand will stem from the meat industry, with high growth expected in diagnostic testing products such as those used to detect Salmonella and E. coli, disinfectants and sanitizers, as well as disinfection equipment.
New RFID standard
Meanwhile, February saw a new RFID international standard - ISO 17367:2009 Supply chain applications of RFID – Product tagging - that is claimed will improve the tracking and traceability of products in the global supply chain.
The standard is applicable to a range of industries as well as food and beverage production, and will help manufacturers and distributors to track products and manage traceability thanks to standardised RFID tags, said the International Organisation for Standardization (ISO) at the time.
The global standards experts said traceability had become a vital aspect of the supply chain and that “the development of RFID, including peripheral devices and their applications, is indispensable for increasing the safety and reliability of products for consumers”.
It defined traceability as the tracking and tracing of product and information related to it at each stage of a chain of production, processing, distribution, and selling.
In terms of RFID technology research work, a pioneering study is underway at the University of Manchester in the UK, which could result in lower food prices and less waste thanks to low-cost, smart sensors based on RFID devices.
Scientists and engineers at the Syngenta Sensors University Innovation Centre (SSUIC) are developing smart sensors integrated with battery-free RFID tags that will allow more scientific ‘best before’ dates to be set by food producers and retailers.
The sensors are being used to track and record real-time stresses suffered by perishable goods from farm gate to retailer’s shelf.
The tags, costing about 10p to 20p compared with £20 (€23) for the current version, could lead to the wide scale deployment of the technology within three years.
Dr Bruce Grieve, director of the SSUIC, said his team believe that fresh produce wastage could be minimised and costs recouped through real-time inventory management of produce, based upon accurate forecasts of shelf life on a box-by-box basis.
“As consumers we may see some of this saving reflected in cheaper fruit and vegetables, while the companies that introduce and invest in this technology will also gain economically,” he said.