An industry veteran’s outlook on Food & Beverage manufacturing

Four questions with JLL’s Food & Beverage industry expert, Ernesto Gemoets

Ernesto joined JLL in 2018 to lead the Food & Beverage vertical, and with his expertise after 20 years of experience in the industry, a technical platform has come to life. We sat down with him to learn more about his background and the outlook for the Food & Beverage industry.

Q: What is your background in F&B?

 A: Prior to JLL, I was the Senior Director of Operations for TreeHouse Foods. I led the manufacturing teams that produced nondairy creamer, tea, pickles, dry dinner and meals and was also responsible for initiatives to improve efficiency, reduce waste and cut costs.

I was at Kraft Foods for 16 years before TreeHouse Foods — that’s where I began my professional career. I held both corporate roles and manufacturing roles for the dairy and snack categories as I built my way up from a Project Engineer, Maintenance Supervisor, Plant Manager and lastly Associate Director of New Product Development.

Q: What is your outlook on the current F&B manufacturing landscape?

 A: Food and Beverage manufacturers are facing competition and margin pressures to grow their business in this highly regulated environment.

Efficiency, maintenance and new equipment are top of mind for F&B manufacturers. They are looking for ways to improve efficiency and control costs at their production facilities without compromising quality and compliance, while keeping cost of goods competitive.

Automation of both production and non-production equipment is advancing at a very fast pace to help deliver new products and lower costs.

And food Safety is an ongoing priority. It is always imperative to have safety plans and procedures in place to be audit-ready and stay ahead of FSMA’s enforcement model. Food safety also plays a role in consumers wanting more traceability and transparency in the products they’re buying.

Q: What challenges are F&B manufacturers facing?

A: Cost are increasing on all fronts. Ingredients, packaging materials and labor are big cost drivers, forcing manufacturers to control their conversion cost. Indirect costs are also an important consideration in keeping the cost of goods within budget. Cost savings are more difficult to find when product quality can’t be compromised and you have to be audit-ready every day.

The labor shortage for skilled workers is a big challenge for all manufacturing sectors. Retention of that talent is difficult for F&B manufacturers due to low unemployment and lack of training. Finding and retaining employees with the technical skills required takes an attractive work environment and benefits along with adequate training.

Sustainability goals, such as reducing waste, energy and water usage is important to many F&B manufacturers, but can be challenging to execute with competing priorities and constrained resources.

Q: What does the future hold for F&B?

A: Competition in the F&B industry will likely continue to increase, and the labor market will remain tight. Food and beverage manufacturers will need to evolve with consumer demands and find ways to improve their transparency and traceability. These challenges, along with profit pressures will force F&B manufacturers to find new ways to operate and deliver savings, including outsourcing non-core activities so they can focus on their core business.

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