Friday, May 17, 2013

Food Manufacturers: Improve Efficiencies and Quality to Overcome Challenges

Michigan is known for a lot of things…beautiful lakes…automobiles…college basketball…but many people out of state would be surprised to learn that Michigan is prominent in another key area – food and agriculture!

According to the Michigan State University’s Product Center, Michigan’s food and agriculture system “grew by about $20 billion since 2009, generating $91.4 billion in economic activity each year.” Because of its wide variety of fruits, vegetables and crops, Michigan is “second only to California in agricultural diversity.” Furthermore, our state’s agricultural exports generated nearly $2.8 billion!

As you could imagine, Michigan has a robust food manufacturing sector. While our state’s food manufacturers are making a positive impact on our economy, it has been an “interesting” year for them to say the least.

A big change to the field occurred because of the Food Safety Modernization Act which will shift the FDA’s focus from “reactionary” to “preventative.” In a nutshell, the Act will require new federal guidelines for food manufacturers. For example, U.S. food makers must “develop a formal plan for preventing their food products from causing foodborne illness” as well as a “plan for correcting any problems that arise.” If you’re unfamiliar with the Act, you can click here for a press release from the FDA which outlines the plan.

Uncertainty about the new guidelines, along with other challenges such as recruiting skilled workers, increased competition and spiked production costs, has confronted our state’s food producers. While no challenge is easy to overcome, Michigan’s manufacturing sector is known for its resilience and can overcome any difficulties thrown its way.

Manufacturers can’t make their problems disappear. However, they can use innovation and implement initiatives to grow, succeed and come out ahead.

Safe Qualify Food (SQF) Program

Especially with scrutiny over safety regulations, a hot topic for Michigan right now is food safety management systems. By improving their management system, manufacturers can deliver better products and increase efficiencies - all while adhering to federal guidelines. MMTC offers a SQF program which provides certification that a manufacturer’s system is in compliance with regulations. Certifications are very important to have: in addition to ensuring compliance, they increase a company’s marketability to suppliers and consumers.

Hazards Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP)

While we’re on the topic of food safety programs… HACCP is a system designed to help food processors minimize food-safety risks. When it comes to implementing new processes and procedures, having an established structure is crucial. HACCP provides the foundation for companies to evaluate risks and implement operations to minimize potential issues.

Your Objectives for 2013

Your goal shouldn’t just be to achieve Food Safety Modernization Act compliance – your goal should be to increase profitability.  As a food manufacturer, you should consistently strive to:

·       Reduce production time
·       Improve cash flow
·       Increase exports
·       Improve plant layout
·       Generate leads and sales

MMTC understands the challenges that Michigan’s manufacturers face. Whether it’s improving your safety management system or conducting a specific project to help you become more efficient, we can help you become more safe, productive and globally competitive. For more information about our Food, Safety and Efficiency Solutions, clickhere or contact us at 888-414-6682 or via email at

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