Five Bulk Material Headlines You May Have Missed in August

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Inflation and the recession have dominated recent news with many sectors reporting downward trends in manufacturing. However, not all industries have shown a decrease, and new technologies are emerging to help improve processes. While we move towards the fourth quarter of 2022, here are five headlines you may have missed in August:

Report Shows that US Chemical Production Rose in July

The U.S. Chemical Production Regional Index (U.S. CPRI) rose by 0.2% in July after a 0.1% decline in June and a 0.4% gain in May, according to the American Chemistry Council (ACC).  

Compared with July 2021, US chemical production was up 0.7%, a slower rate of growth than last month. Chemical production was higher than a year ago in all regions except the Gulf Coast, which was 1.9% lower. 

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How Digital Tools are Reshaping the Baking Industry

While the baking industry celebrates the return to in-person interaction, there is something to be said for the role virtual tools have played. They’ve not only helped commercial bakeries keep operations afloat but also, on a certain level, changed the way the industry does business.

Although North American bakery professionals have been able to use in-person meetings and conventions, many companies abroad have not had the luxury. Events such as interpack in Dusseldorf, Germany, and Munich’s iba show have yet to restart their tradeshows, leaving international operators hungry for face time.

In regards to consumers, at remote work has changed eating habits, causing many people to skip the trip to the local sandwich shop or bakery.  “With people not necessarily going into the office five days a week, it’s affecting the lunch stops, sub shops and other franchise chains, “said Robb MacKie, president and CEO of American Bakers Association (ABA), which is a co-owner of IBIE. “Looking at how the breakfast category is changing as well, we know it’s going to impact how our members operate and their position in the market. And the suppliers will have to adjust to that, too.”

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New Program Created to Find the Next Group of Young Engineers and Packaging Professionals

As part of its Global Youth Initiative, Nestlé launched the Nestlé Youth Entrepreneurship Platform (YEP), a new digital platform for young innovators and entrepreneurs who want to learn new knowledge and skills, test an idea or grow their businesses, in areas ranging from food science and technology to the development of products and services - including regenerative agriculture and sustainable packaging.

Key programs available on Nestlé's Youth Entrepreneurship Platform include: Nestle R&D Accelerator, Purina Unleashed, and Nestle Market Initiatives. According to the International Labor Organization (ILO), two out of every five young people are either unemployed or have a job that keeps them in poverty. For this reason, Nestlé launched the Global Youth Initiative that helps young people gain the skills they need to thrive in tomorrow's workplaces.

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Specialty Food Association Releases 2021 Annual Food Industry Report

The Specialty Food Association (SFA) has released its annual State of the Specialty Food Industry Report, revealing that the specialty food market reached total sales of $175 billion in 2021, up 7.4% versus 5.8% the year before.

The overall plant-based specialty retail market grew 6%, exceeding $7.7 billion in 2021, after 26% growth in 2020. Plant-based growth has outpaced the entire specialty retail market, which grew 4% in 2021 and 20% in 2020. However, some plant-based categories were among 12 total that grew specialty sales slower than the entire market in 2021. 

The annual research is an examination of market size and sales; dollar and unit sales growth; specialty food category penetration; and 10-year tracking and forecasting in key categories.

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Inflation and Recession Drive Down Food & Beverage Sales

Unit sales of most food and beverage products, including grain-based foods, are decreasing amid high inflation, according to data issued recently by IRI, a Chicago-based market research firm. IRI data show that in most cases, unit sales of food and beverages over the past 52 weeks were lower than during the previous year.

Of 178 food categories tracked by IRI, unit sales were flat or down in the 52 weeks ended Aug. 7 for 141, or 80%, and up only for 37. The data covered sales in supermarkets, drugstores, mass market, convenience, military and select club and dollar stores. Within the 178 categories, the median 52-week change was a 2.7% decrease in unit sales — meaning half of the categories had decreases of 2.7% or greater and half had decreases of 2.7% or less or increased.

While unit sales shift between categories every year, with some growing and some shrinking, reflecting changing consumer preferences, widespread decreases in unit sales tend to be rare. Because the population grows each year and people generally consume the same amount from one year to the next, unit sales tend to gradually increase each year. The last time unit sales fell broadly was during the Great Recession, which was surprising at the time since demand for staples like food and beverages tend to hold up well during periods of economic weakness.

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