Jobs and filings

Tech at centre of reshaping Big Food’s workforce

GlobalData digs into hiring trends and public company filings to analyse Big Food’s interest in key tech themes. Saywah Mahmood reports.

By Michael Goodier

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With many companies across industry adapting to a future working environment where technology will be at the forefront, it’s no wonder that food manufacturers are looking to shape their workforces accordingly.

Between the start of May 2021 and the end of May 2022, there was an overall 87% increase in technology-related job postings in the food manufacturing sector, according to analysis of hiring patterns by research and intelligence group GlobalData. 

During the period, the biggest increase in tech job openings was at Nestlé (15.5%). Fellow multinational food major PepsiCo upped its postings by 7.9%. 

At both companies, roles related to artificial intelligence drove the increase in postings (with increases of 633% and 234% respectively). 

AI an area of focus

And there is evidence jobs linked to AI are being filled quicker at food manufacturers. Open positions related to the technology were online for less time in the first quarter than a year earlier, GlobalData’s analysis suggests. 

The posts were up on average for 13 days before they were taken offline, a decrease compared to the equivalent figure a year earlier, indicating the required skillset for these roles has become easier to find in the past year, GlobalData suggests.

Tech key to navigating Covid-19

Efforts to hire more staff in the field of AI is reflected in how both Nestlé and PepsiCo have recently managed to use technological solutions to navigate the pandemic.  

The travel restrictions spurred by the pandemic led Nestlé to expand the use of augmented reality technology to provide remote support to its production and R&D sites and to connect with suppliers. 

Like many companies, PepsiCo encountered supply chain problems early on in the pandemic, as consumers stockpiled staple items amid imminent lockdowns. 

In response, PepsiCo used analytics and machine learning to better predict which products would be out of stock and alert retailers to reorder. 

Corporate interest in ‘future of work’

Unilever and Wilmar International and were among the major food manufacturers that mentioned the future of work the most often in their public filings in 2021, GlobalData says. 

Of the ten biggest employers in the food manufacturing industry, Unilever was the company that referred to the future of work the most during 2021. GlobalData identified 14 sentences related to the future of work in the FMCG giant’s filings – equal to 0.14% of all sentences. 

Singapore-based Wilmar International mentioned the concept the second-most often. The issue was referred to in 0.11% of sentences in Wilmar’s filings. Other top employers with high future-of-work mentions included Associated British Foods, Grupo Bimbo and Itochu. 

Tracing back to 2016, mentions of the future of work within the filings of companies in the food manufacturing industry were 1567% higher during 2021 than five years previous, according to the latest analysis from GlobalData. 

The research group also categorises the future of work mentions by a series of sub-themes. Of these sub-themes, the most commonly referred to topic in centred on collaboration tools, which made up almost 52% of all sub-theme mentions by food manufacturers related to the future of work.