CONFUSION INHIBITS RFID TAKE UP BY FOOD INDUSTRY

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A lack of understanding is inhibiting the wider take up of RFID within the UK food industry, according to new research.

The study conducted among over 100 leading UK food manufacturers by the organisers of the easyFairs Process Pack & Track FOOD Shows, suggests that only 17% of companies have already introduced RFID or plan to introduce it over the next 12 months. 

The research suggests that a key reason for this slow take-up is not a lack of need indeed 38% want to improve their stock management over the next 12 months, over a third need better forecasting and 31% have prioritised improving traceability. 

The barrier to adopting RFID appears to be a lack of knowledge about the real benefits it offers and confusion about the costs.  For instance just 18% of the food and drink manufacturers studied say they are at least fairly knowledgeable about the technology, 40% admit that the greatest barrier to introducing RFID is a lack of knowledge while perceived cost is deterring 37%.   

Interestingly, technology is not seen as an issue only 9% report that it is inhibiting take-up.  In fact most food companies questioned are keen to explore new technology solutions right across the production spectrum with 43% planning to invest in an array of new areas in the year ahead.

According to Peter Heath, managing director of easyFairs UK the message is loud and clear  The food industry is in the mood to innovate and to invest in areas which will deliver competitive advantage. Its not technology shy, but it is looking for suppliers to explain the bottom line benefits of RFID before it makes the move.

easyFairs is attempting to remedy this situation at the Process, Pack & Track Food shows which take place at Sandown Park in Esher in May and at the Reebok Stadium in Bolton in June.  The shows will offer food and drink companies the chance to explore and discuss the costs and benefits of new processing, packing, traceability and labelling technologies including RFID.  The events will feature free, independent, seminars called learnShops delivered by industry experts and the shows will also feature over 60 leading suppliers plus discussion forums.

In addition to highlighting the barriers, the research also identifies the key selling points of RFID that are most likely to prompt UK food and drink companies to adopt it.   Over half say improved tracking and the promise of more efficient stock operations will drive them to RFID.  While a further one in five (22%) will investigate the technology because of its improved forecasting potential. 

If the benefits are properly communicated the food industry will make the move - indeed almost half (46%) predict that RFID will be in widespread usage within the food and drink industry within the next 3 years.

However, those suppliers who are relying on pressure from retailers to force food companies to make the switch may have to wait a while, as only 12% report that they have been approached by a trading partner or customer to introduce RFID. 

easyFairs Process, Pack & Track FOOD South (24th  - 25th May 2006) is being held at Sandown Park in Esher while easyFairs Process, Pack & Track FOOD North (14th  - 15th June 2006) will be at the Reebok Stadium in Bolton.

All those who pre-register for and attend either of the shows, will receive a free copy of the easyFairs UK food and drink report when they visit.

To visit call 020 8622 4419 or visit easyfairs.com/pptfoodnorth or easyfairs.com/pptfoodsouth

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