US demand for food safety products is forecast to reach $4.5 billion in 2016. Solid gains will be the result of increased public awareness, the enactment of more stringent government regulations, and industry initiatives that will provide a strong impetus for companies to improve their food safety practices. Additionally, growth will be driven by challenges arising from the increasingly global nature of the food supply, which adds complexity and the potential for the introduction of new pathogens from different regions.
Smart labels, tags to be fastest growing products
While healthy growth is projected in all segments, smart labels and tags are expected to experience the fastest gains. Demand for smart labels and tags will be boosted by increased emphasis on traceability in the food supply chain and expanded adoption of newer smart label technology in food packaging to reduce losses in perishable foods. Opportunities will also exist in the livestock market as large cattle and pig farms seek ways to speed animal transfer and processing at feed lots and slaughterhouses and to improve the traceability of animals to their point of origin. The latter is crucial in the event of animal disease outbreaks. While demand for barcode labels and tags will lag the segment average due to market maturity, the implementation of standardized barcodes in the produce industry for improved traceability will stimulate gains.
Diagnostic products will post above average growth, benefiting from increased government testing requirements along with heightened emphasis on testing for possible contamination following recent high profile recalls due to outbreaks of foodborne illness. Also driving growth for food safety diagnostic testing will be the continued migration toward rapid diagnostic tests, which are more expensive.
Food processing plants to remain dominant market
Food processing plants represent by far the largest market for food safety products, accounting for 60 percent of the total in 2011. Overall demand growth in this market is expected to be in line with the industry average, reflecting the continued industry focus on food safety as a primary concern. While all submarkets will log healthy gains, the fastest growth is expected in the seafood, fresh prepared food, and beverage segments. Additional market-specific factors will propel demand in various submarkets. For instance, trends toward convenienceoriented refrigerated food options will support rapid gains in fresh prepared food applications.
Foodservice establishments will continue to represent a sizeable market for food safety products. Advances will be fueled by accelerated growth in foodservice revenues following weaker performance in the recession-impacted 2006-2011 period. Gains will also reflect the general importance of sanitation and testing for the prevention of cross-contamination and foodborne illnesses. Through 2016, the farm market will be the fastest growing application for food safety products. Crop and produce uses will outpace those of livestock due to increased pathogen testing of produce at the farm level, and continued testing for the presence of GMOs at grain elevators. Robust growth is anticipated for smart labels and tags, and software and tracking systems used to comply with produce traceability mandates.