By Jason Andrukaitis
According to The Freedonia Group’s recently released “Food Safety Products” report, U.S. demand for food safety products will increase 6.5 percent per year to $3.2 billion in 2012. Rising concerns prompted by several well-publicized food-borne illness outbreaks, food product recalls, and cases of contamination in imported food products will lead to increased spending on food safety initiatives, says the market researcher. According to the report, disinfection and diagnostic products will see the most growth as they are expected to be key components in alleviating the concern over food safety. The fastest growing segment of the food safety market, however, will be smart labels and tags, which will allow improved product traceability safety assurance. Only moderate growth is expected for preservatives as new technologies decrease their necessity.
“Disinfection and diagnostic products are the largest product segments and are expected to see strong growth,” says Pauline Tung, industry analyst for The Freedonia Group. Disinfectants and sanitation chemicals used for washing, cleaning, and sanitizing food processing machinery and preparation surfaces are used throughout the food production process, but the disinfection equipment sector stands to see more rapid growth as new technologies gain popularity. “There are trends toward using disinfection equipment such as UV [ultraviolet] and ozone equipment as they do not require extensive use of harsh chemicals,” says Tung.
Diagnostic equipment, specifically rapid diagnostic testing tools, is also expected to gain increased market share over conventional products. Tests for residues and allergens will also post strong growth, boosted by FDA regulations, such as new allergen labeling requirements, and consumer concerns regarding the presence of pesticides and drugs (e.g., antibiotics) in food. Today, says Tung, the two most common technologies for detecting food allergens are the ELISA test, which uses the protein-based immunoassay method, and the DNA methodology, which uses the more accurate polymerase chain reaction (PCR) technology. There is also a trend toward testing tools that provide rapid results, such as a new technology developed at Purdue University that allows facilities to detect food-borne pathogens within one to two hours by utilizing live mammalian cells (see “Live Cells Detect Food-borne Pathogens and Toxins,” CleanRooms, April 2006, p. 8).
Demand for preservatives is expected to advance at a below-average rate due to market maturity, the growing popularity of organic food, and new pasteurization and packaging technologies. Steam-vacuum pasteurization for use in the meat and poultry processing industry, surface pasteurization for fresh fruit processing, and in-package pasteurization for egg products will decrease the need for preservatives, according to Tung’s analysis.
Smart labels and tags will also play an increased role in food safety as they will allow for the tracking and increased control of the end product. “In some cases, smart labels and tags directly interact with the food or environment to provide food safety-related information,” says Tung. This information can include temperature, storage time, and distribution information.
“Because the food safety products industry is organized largely by product area, it is not dominated by any specific company,” says Tung. Examples of some leaders in disinfectants and sanitizers include Ecolab and Becton, Dickinson and Company. Smaller companies such as Neogen–which has a large focus on food safety–also play a significant role in the market, the analyst concludes.