The Future of Food Chains


faced with a lack of access to critical supply chain capacity, limitations in gaining operational efficiencies and know how, and subject to the tough buying criteria set by dominant supermarket. Whilst growth in production from innovative food SMEs is both necessary and likely, the extent to which this can be achieved is largely dependant on the ability for small companies to access dedicated research and development space and establish operationally efficient production footprints and supply chain networks. The implication for real estate therefore is a need to facilitate a diverse range of occupiers within the food sector across a range of asset classes. Assessments should be made around spare capacity within the existing food network, and the appropriate configuration of space within new industrial clusters, allowing for the establishment of dedicated space enabling SMEs to research, test and scale their commercial operations. Significant opportunities for new food manufacturing, handling and processing clusters therefore exist. Owed to the inherently different nature of start-ups and innovators these clusters will not be defined by the market dynamics that affect the general industrial and logistics sector. OUTLOOK


Food production networks are inherently de-centralised, and are often saturated by a variety of business types with unique ownership and management structures, typically specialising in relatively niche food types. And whilst this fragmented nature provides a number of advantages, it also poses several challenges. Throughout recent years, several industry groups have emerged bringing with them network efficiencies, and collaboration. Voluntary agreements such as the Courtauld Commitment are driving re form, innovation, and a collective effort to transform our food chains, bringing together a community of businesses both local and global alike. The importance of small businesses and their ability to innovate in an agile manner is widely understood. However, one of the biggest obstacles threatening essential dietary change is a lack of penetration from new food brands launching food types within the sustainable and health categories. Put simply, dietary change can only happen if greener and healthier products themselves are both desirable and affordable. Innovative SMEs producing often superior products are typically


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