I remember sitting in History classes when I was younger wondering why countries and their citizens seemed to repeat the same behaviors over and over again. It didn't make sense at the time why I was grounded and had to hand-write apologies for minor infractions while countries seemed to kill each other's citizens at random without so much as an 'oops.' Only when I got to college and took a few psychology and sociology classes did this start to make a little more sense.
Turns out, we are all inherently driven by our own self-interests. Whether we're talking individuals, corporations, or countries, the modus operandi is, was, and seems to remain focused on one thing: me.
Of course I'm not talking about me, the person; I'm referring to the collective 'me' that believes itself to be above and beyond everybody else. You know who they are. They're the ones you see grouped together at parties... during a pandemic. They unabashedly place profits as a higher priority than people. They often refuse to wear something that would help prevent illness—citing their 'rights' being infringed upon—while simultaneously claiming they don't see racism.
In 2020, we seemed to have reached a tipping point. The accumulation of me-focused behavior in 2020 has a body count that rivals the deadliest war in the history of the United States. For the sake of our country and our future, I really hope the aftermath of 2020 is what prompts a collective switch from me to we.
2020: In Hindsight and in Foresight
When you report on an industry that is essential to the success of a nation, it's easy to get sucked into the negativity that comes with constant reporting of bad news. Despite every other story we reported on in the last nine months feeling like it was sadder than the last, there were still glimmers of hope.
In our 2020 news pages, you can see some remarkable advances in technology and funding. You can also see how companies came together to help each other out, how they fought for social causes, and how they made a few dreams come true. In fact, if you look hard enough, you can start to see that we might actually turn that corner into the aforementioned land of "we."
- Back in February, we reported on two female scientists that have disrupted the child nutrition market with the launch of Biomilq. The pair invented the technology that can provide families a more nutritious and more sustainable option for feeding babies.
- In March, past Processor of the Year Chobani announced its 2020 Incubator Class, which included eight disruptive and innovative food and beverage startups.
- Also in March, PepsiCo's Frito-Lay worked with Natural Products Expo West to launch the 2020 WomanMade Funding Challenge, while PepsiCo-owned Stacy's Pita Chips launched a campaign to help female entrepreneurs.
- In the early days of coronavirus, numerous distilleries and breweries converted into into hand sanitizer facilities while Pepsi Bottlers in the Carolinas pitched in to help with face shields.
- In April, Molson Coors granted a quarantined 93 year old's beer wish by delivering her 150 Coors Light beers while Ocean Spray gifted a breakout social media star a new truck in October.
- Throughout the summer, processors large and small supported the anti-racism movement, with some brands changing their racially-insensitive logos and names entirely.
- One company and its employees raised more than $10,000 to help support virtual learning.
- Some processors showed what makes them a great place to work by increasing the hourly pay of their employees while others were honored for how they treated their employees during COVID-19 (worth noting both of these companies are past or present Processors of the Year).
I sincerely hope that years from now, when we look back at 2020, we'll remember this as the year that changed everything. As anyone who has been through hard times can attest, failure, frustration, and/or pain become the fuel from which we power our creative engines. My prediction for 2021 and beyond? The pendulum will swing from me to we and all of the lockdown hobbies we accumulated in 2020 will pave the way for some of the most creative new product innovations we've ever seen.
From our Food Processing family to your food processor family, we wish you a happy new year.