Immediate priorities


More than two thirds of UK food and drink manufacturing professionals have an optimistic outlook about the future of their business when compared to 2012, according to the Food Manufacture survey conducted this summer.

It is a sense of optimism shared by many within the construction sector but there are concerns too. So what are the priorities for the immediate future?

Food Manufacture's survey indicated that improving energy efficiency was amongst the top three priorities for companies this year. It seems highly probable that it will remain a priority for the forseeable future as energy costs continue to rise in the face of increasing pressure on natural resources.

The survey also indicated just 14% are considering shifting manufacturing outside of the UK while more than half are planning more capital investment this year than last. These are welcome results if one believes as does Mr Kendall, NFU President, that "in times of economic uncertainty, a strong food producing nation is essential."

In the face of a rising population and growing demand for increased food production, it is certain that manufacturing, processing and distribution facilities cannot remain unchanged: the requirement for increased capacity is inevitable.

With that change comes the necessity of incorporating more energy efficiency measures. Increasing pressure on natural resources means new facilities will need to reduce the use of water and electricity for instance. And without exception, greater energy efficiency equals better value in the form of reduced operating costs as well as a reduced carbon footprint.

Chalcroft's white paper,Turning food green noted the size of the opportunity for the UK's food industry with potential savings in operating costs of up to £120m per year possible through the adoption of green building and sustainability measures. Of course there are other marketable benefits for businesses adopting more energy efficient operating models and the demand for improved environmental performance is being pushed further up the supply chain all the time.

But focusing purely on operating costs, there is no doubt that far greater savings than the £120m cited are possible, given a long term approach to green building investment. And the time to think about energy and operational efficiency for expanding and new facilities is now. The earlier in the equation the experience of construction companies is sought, the more sustainable and cost effective every project will become.

October 2013