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In 2023, German manufacturers of food processing and packaging machinery achieved a nominal export growth of 8.6 percent, reaching a record value of 9.85 billion euros. However, German manufacturers were not the only ones to benefit from the strong global demand. According to the data available to date, the global trade in food processing and packaging machinery is expected to rise to over 52 billion euros in 2023.

Food processing and packaging machinery exports in 2023 - at record levels worldwide
Beatrix Fraese (VDMA/Uwe Noelke)

With an export turnover of 86 percent, the German food machinery and packaging machinery industry has an above-average level of activity in foreign markets. “On the one hand, we benefit from the continuing high level of investment in automated, efficient and sustainable production and packaging technologies in industrialised countries and, on the other, from the growth momentum in populous countries,” says Beatrix Fraese, economic expert at the VDMA Food Processing and Packaging Machinery Association. Last year, 53 per cent – and therefore more than half of exports – were delivered to countries outside Europe, with the focus on Asia and North America.

Food and beverage sector strongest industry in many countries

In many emerging economies, including the populous countries of India, Indonesia, Mexico, Brazil and Nigeria, for example, the food and beverage industries are the strongest industrial sectors (source: United Nations Industries Development Organisation UNIDO).

By investing in hygienic processing and packaging technology, these often resource-rich countries are increasing local value creation and self-sufficiency in safe, long-live food and beverages. They are increasingly moving away from exporting pure raw materials and instead exporting their own products in the region and, in some cases, worldwide. “The potential is far from exhausted and will continue to ensure a strong demand for machinery,” believes Beatrix Fraese.

The food and beverage industry is also the largest industrial sector in many industrialised countries, especially in the USA. In the United States, the sector employs almost 2 million people and generated a production value of over 1.1 trillion Euros in 2023 (source: Euromonitor International). Against the backdrop of a lack of skilled labour, the sector continues to invest in automated, efficient and stable processes. This ensures that imports of machinery are constantly reaching new records. German manufacturers have been the USA’s most important trading partner in the food processing and packaging machinery segment for many years.

USA remains number 1 market – India and Mexico among the TOP 10

The strongest impetus in 2023 also came from the USA. German deliveries of food processing and packaging machinery to the United States rose by 19 percent to €1.7 billion, which corresponds to an all-time high.

The USA has led the ranks of the top 10 sales markets for many years. France, China, the United Kingdom, Poland, Switzerland, Mexico, the Netherlands, India and Italy followed far behind in 2023.

From a regional perspective, German manufacturers sold 33 percent of exported machines in EU countries. A further 14 percent went to other European countries, 19 percent to North America, 17 percent to Asia, 8 percent to Central/South America, 4 percent to Africa, 3 percent to the Near/Middle East and 2 percent to Australia/Oceania.

Global machinery trade reaches record level in 2023

The global trade in machinery – the sum of exports from around 50 industrialised countries – reflects the global demand for imported food processing and packaging machinery and has been growing dynamically for years. Over the last 10 years, global trade in machinery has increased by 43 percent from €33.9 billion in 2012 to €48.6 billion in 2022, with EU countries accounting for a good 60 per cent of this. This makes the European food machinery and packaging machinery industry the most successful mechanical engineering segment in Europe, with Germany and Italy leading the way.

According to the data available to date, the global trade in food processing and packaging machinery will increase to over EUR 52 billion in 2023 despite difficult conditions, which corresponds to an increase of around 7 percent.

“We also see growth for our industry in 2024, as the global demand for safe and high-performance machines remains immense,” explains Beatrix Fraese, pointing to the strongest investment drivers, namely hygiene and food safety, automation and efficiency improvements, resource conservation and sustainability in production and the packaging process.

Contrary to concerns – oft repeated on social media – that the manufacturing process destroys the nutritional value of shop bought 100 % orange juice, researchers from leading universities in Spain and Italy have found levels of polyphenols – valuable bioactive compounds linked to health – are similar in home-squeezed and shop-bought juice.

The study, published in the International Journal of Food Sciences and Nutrition*, compared the most popular shop bought orange juices in the UK, Germany, France and Spain against freshly squeezed ‘Navelina’ oranges. It found that while home squeezed juice contains more vitamin C than shop-bought equivalents, this degrades significantly over time and is expected to reach shop bought juice levels after a week.

The study also established that shop bought orange juice contains 94 % of European recommendations for daily vitamin C intakes – set at 90 mg for men and 80 mg for women – meaning only a minor impact on consumers from a nutritional standpoint.

Vitamin C, found in fruits and vegetables, is essential for human health since it can’t be synthesised by the body and is involved in many biochemical functions including immunity, neutralising free radicals, iron absorption, bone formation and synthesis of collagen. Low intakes can be noticed as poor wound healing and gum inflammation.

Lead scientist in the study, Dr Cristina Viguera from the Department of Food Science and Technology at CEBAS-CSIC, said: “Our research indicates that there’s limited nutritional advantage to spending time home squeezing oranges when you can obtain similar levels of polyphenols and most of the vitamin C you need from a good quality shop bought version.

“We also found that shop bought orange juices preserve their bioactive compounds during storage and the brand, country or manufacturing process made little difference to the polyphenols or vitamin C. Overall, orange juice is still a rich source of vitamin C whether it’s freshly squeezed or purchased”.

*Salar et al. (2024) Comparison of vitamin C and flavanones between freshly squeezed orange juices and commercial 100 % orange juices from four European countries. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/38230429/.

Data presented during the Prognosfruit conference speak to Poland’s and Italy’s good recovery. Forecasts for organic harvests are very promising. This year’s Interpoma Award will focus on sustainability.

Apple production figures showing overall stability are emerging from Prognosfruit, the annual conference organized by WAPA, the World Apple and Pear Association. During its 2022 edition, held in attendance in Belgrade after two years of pandemic-related online editions, the data presented on the upcoming European apple harvest estimate a yield of 12,168,000 tons which represent a slight growth of 1 % compared to 2021.

Poland spearheads the effort, boasting 4,495,000 tons (+ 5 %), followed by Italy at 2,150,000 tons, which equals a 5 % year-on-year growth. If we look at Italy, South Tyrol – the best-performing apple-growing region – registers a slight decrease in production (- 3 %) at 912,803 tons. A similar drop is evident in the Trentino region (- 1 %) with a forecast of 507,360 tons. France ranks third at 1,468,000 tons (+ 6 %), with Germany slightly behind at 1,067,000 tons (+ 6 %). One of the growing trends is Italy’s organic harvest, which is expected to reach a new record at just under 200,000 tons (+ 4 % YOY growth), representing more than 9 % of the total apple yield.

These facts and figures will dominate the Interpoma Congress scheduled for November 17 and 18 at Fiera Bolzano during the Interpoma trade fair (November 17-19, 2022). The international apple fair will focus on the industry’s innovations and cutting-edge automated fruit-picking technology, with experts from all over the world contributing to the debate. The program will, as usual, include many new items of interest, including the Congress’ coordinator himself, Walter Guerra. He has been the Vice-Director of the Laimburg Research Center since 2021, and the Head of the Pomology Working Group from 2005 onwards. Tickets to Interpoma Congress can be purchased online, with the Early Bird ticket costing €54 until August 31; after that, tickets will cost €69.

The most important world fair on apples would not be what it is without the Interpoma Award. The 2022 edition will focus on cutting-edge water-saving technologies in apple-growing. Two prizes will be awarded this year: one will go to companies or individuals, the other to start-ups. An expert jury will analyze the products or services submitted, such as machines, systems, components or devices. Applications for the award can be submitted by filling out an application form in English and sending it to interpoma@fieramesse.com. The deadline for submissions is September 30, 2022.