With the third quarter coming to a close, now's the time to kick 2020 budgeting into high gear. Food manufacturers and processors need to start planning their 2020 budgets and allocate money toward the most important investments that will impact operations throughout the coming year.

There are a lot of major operational areas that require your attention, but what should you prioritise most? To stay competitive in crowded markets, maintain production benchmarks and adhere to safety standards, consider pushing these investments to the top of your budgetary priorities.

Ensuring food safety and purity

Food safety is a major concern in the food manufacturing industry, as government authorities work to make refine regulations and clamp down on organisations that fail to meet proper standards.

Compared with many other countries, Australia has robust food safety management systems in place. But despite those precautions, more than 4 million Australians still experience food poisoning each year, according to the Australian Institute of Food Safety.

Reliable food safety systems need to be in place to prevent food-borne illnesses.Reliable food safety systems need to be in place to prevent food-borne illnesses.

Food Standards Australia New Zealand is currently in the process of reviewing food safety standards with a proposal for updated safety guidelines to be put in place sometime next year. Food processors and manufacturers should begin updating their own processes in anticipation of those forthcoming changes and improve internal practises.

To that end, auditing existing safety equipment such as x-ray detection systems to check for performance issues should already be underway. In addition, it may be a good idea for food manufacturers and processors to build potential maintenance or replacement needs into their 2020 budgets.

Scaling to meet the demands of globalisation

Maintaining business success necessitates growing beyond the borders of traditional markets and expanding into new locales. The food industry has become more globalised in recent years and improvements in supply chain logistics make it possible to bring perishable foods to different corners of the globe.

Meeting global demand won't be easy – in fact, it will likely be impossible – without the systems in place to scale up production and delivery. Automated systems, streamlined processes and reliable equipment are all needed to operate at peak performance levels and increase facility productivity and efficiency.

Thinking of expanding into new markets? Put the foundation in place to support elastic scalability.Thinking of expanding into new markets? Put the foundation in place to support elastic scalability.

If you are considering aggressive expansion in the near future, begin laying the groundwork today with an investment in the foundational technology that will spur market growth.

Protecting your brand reputation

It only takes one negative experience or incident to tarnish the reputation of a food manufacturer. Product quality and purity should always be a major priority for food processors, as every item that leaves your facility directly represents your brand.Rehabbing a brand with a poor reputation can take years in the food processing industry, and it may prove to be impossible to fully rebuild public trust following a scandal or controversy.

Investing in more stringent product quality checks and equipment will pay off in the long run by protecting and burnishing the greatest asset any company has: its reputation. Replacing faulty or inconsistent metal detectors and check weighing systems and x-ray detection machinery is a significant step toward maintaining consistent facility output.

Driving down costs through innovation

Food production costs can easily undercut profitability if left unchecked. When you sit down to lay out your 2020 budget, look for opportunities to lower your operational expenses wherever you can. That entails cutting out inefficient processes, repairing faulty machinery and replacing equipment that has passed its useful life.

Investing in innovative solutions can help maximise your cost savings by implementing cutting-edge machinery and industry-leading workflows into your organisation. Automation, for instance, eliminates expensive and error-prone manual processes and enables you to do far more with far less.

With the clock winding down on 2019, don't put off budgeting for next year any longer. Make food safety and quality a priority in 2020. SRO Technology's industry-leading food safety equipment can help ensure your facilities release only the highest-quality products.