Editor's Plate: Comments From Processors on 2010

Write-ins from our Manufacturing Survey show your concerns, insights.

By Dave Fusaro, Editor in Chief

It took a while for me to digest all the comments from our 2010 Manufacturing Trends Survey, but I found some real nuggets of wisdom therein.

First, let me remind you of the overall tenor of the story. Despite all that happened in 2009, there was a lot of positive attitude. Two-thirds of respondents said they were optimistic going into the new year; only 7 percent were pessimistic. Sixty-eight percent of respondents projected some increase in production next year; 16 percent foresaw increases of 20 percent or more. Only 8.6 percent expected a decrease. The survey was taken during November.

While most of the Manufacturing Trends Survey was about numbers, the final question was a wide open one: What have we forgotten to ask; what else would you want to say?

Several of you used the open-ended question to reinforce your worries about the recovery. “Uncertainty about the economy,” was written in by more than one respondent. “My main concern is the global economic crisis,” wrote another. Other answers included: “Sales, sales, sales”; “getting this company out of debt”; and “finding new business.”

There were other concerns brought up. A couple of readers mentioned government regulations:

  • Government regulatory burdens are increasing to the point that we are considering moving outside the United States.”
  • The threat of legislation and associated costs of new FDA or USDA requirements.”
  • This guy doesn’t like the FDA: “[We’re concerned about] potential new FDA regulations, increased FDA inspections and FDA’s greater access to our records and programs.”
A couple of you mentioned the cost of machinery:
  • “Why is cost of machinery escalating?”
  • “We do not have the capital to invest in the latest machines, etc., thus we have to make do with inferior/old machines.”
    • “Show traceable products, processes and raw materials to consumers. Use web tools for friendly information providing.”
    • “We’re reducing packaging costs by lightweighting bottles, reducing cardboard in shipping cases, saving fuel by using lighter containers, higher efficiency light bulbs, motors, heaters, etc.
    • “Moving toward increased strictness of employee sanitation requirements (smocks, clean area, etc.)”
    • “Using a 6-sigma approach to all processes to find and reduce waste.

    And several mentioned raw materials and ingredient supply sources and costs, increasing labor costs (is that still a problem?) and upper management that doesn’t seem to have a plan. All the comments were great and provided insight. Thanks to all of you who responded.