Process and Operations

MRO Q&A: What Will the Recession Effect Be for Food and Beverage?

MRO Q&A is a Food Processing series addressing maintenance, repair and operational issues in food plants.

Q. If this recession is over or about to end, what does it mean for food & beverage plant production. I mean, is there any consensus on what to expect, what to plan for next year? I have been planning for a minimal increase in throughput, all of which I can accommodate with current equipment. Am I on target with what others are forecasting?

A. There are a lot of sayings about economists. One of my favorites is from George Bernard Shaw: “If all economists were laid end to end, they would not reach a conclusion.” So there’s no way of knowing for sure that this recession has ended. But every day there are more indications we’re on the road to recovery.

Food Processing has its Annual Manufacturing Trends Survey under way as we write this. Early responses (more than 300) indicate most plant managers are gearing up for a busier 2010. The biggest response group -- one-third – think production will increase 3-9 percent in 2010; 21 percent say it will be up 10-19 percent; 14 percent predict an increase of 20 percent or more. That’s 69 percent who plan on at least a 3 percent increase in production in 2010. Those predicting decreases total only 8 percent, and most of those are predicting only 3-9 percent declines.

That’s nothing you can take to the bank, but that and many other economic signs are pointing in the right direction. By the way, see our January issue for the full report on the Annual Manufacturing Trends Survey.