Applied Analytical Techniques for Food

The global food and agricultural market, valued in the trillions of dollars, employs multiple analytical technologies for food research and -safety testing, resulting in a food-applications market valued in the billions. The technologies include a wide range of instruments and consumables for a variety of techniques, including process analysis, MS, materials characterization and surface science. Among these segments, specialized food technologies is the largest market. The January Strategic Directions International (SDi) report, “A Critical Ingredient: Analytical Instrumentation in Food Safety & Other Food Applications, 2014–2019,” examines the market for technologies used for food applications. The information in this article is taken from the report, and the data presented are estimates for 2014.

The food applications covered in the report are diverse, and include food-safety testing for pathogens, toxins and adulterants. Basic research, such as diet and nutrition research, and the development of GMOs is also covered, as are industrial applications, such as the development and reformulation of food products, which includes testing for properties such as color and viscosity. QA/QC applications, which assess qualities such as texture and moisture content, are covered in the report as well. The total market for food-applications technologies was estimated at over seven billion dollars for 2014. The combined annual growth rate (CAGR) for the market is expected to increase in the mid-single digits from 2014 to 2019. The table below provides details on each technology category of the food-applications market.

For purposes of categorizing segments of the total food-applications market, an initial instrument system consists of the instrument and any hardware, software, supplies and accessories that are part of its order. The aftermarket is comprised of accessories, components, consumables, software and supplies for instruments, sold after the original instrument order. Service consists of service contracts and replacement parts.

In the overall market for food applications, initial systems represented two-thirds of demand for all of the covered technology segments, according to estimates for 2014. Its CAGR for 2014–19 is expected to be in the mid-single digits. Aftermarket and service accounted for almost one-quarter and almost one-tenth of demand, respectively. Each is expected to experience CAGRs from 2014 to 2019 in the mid-single digits.

Unlike in many developing regions, food-safety regulations in developed countries apply to all food products in all stages of production. According to Leatherhead Food Research, in 2012, 89 of the top 100 food and beverage companies were headquartered in the US, Canada, Europe and Japan. The SDi report estimates that about 80% of the geographic demand in 2014 for the total market (including aftermarket and service) for food-applications technologies was from these same regions. The CAGR for these regions from 2014 to 2019 is expected to be slightly below the worldwide average, which is projected in the mid-single digits. China, India and Other Asia Pacific (which excludes Japan) are expected to experience the highest CAGRs over the same time period, ranging from the mid- to high single digits.

Labs in the agriculture, and food and beverage industries constituted over half of the market demand for the total market (including aftermarket and service) for food-applications technologies, according to estimates for 2014. The remaining demand was divided relatively evenly across government, academic and independent-testing labs. QA/QC accounted for the largest demand for the total food-applications market by function, and together with analytical services and applied R&D accounted for more than three-fourths of the market.

The largest technology segment of the food-applications market is food technologies. The report defines food technologies as specific to food applications and used to test the safety of food and the hygiene of food facilities. According to estimates for 2014, at over $1.8 billion, the food-technologies market accounted for almost 25% of the total market for all food-applications techniques in the report.

The same segment exhibited the highest growth rate among the technology segments from 2009 to 2014, with a CAGR of about 10%. From 2014 to 2019, its CAGR is expected to slow to the high single digits.

Initial systems made up over 95% of demand in the food-technologies segment in 2014, accounting for slightly under one-fourth of the demand for the overall food-applications market. The CAGR from 2014 to 2019 for initial systems is projected in the high single digits. Aftermarket and service represented low proportions of the food-technologies market in 2014, accounting for less than 5% and less than 1%, respectively, and about 1% and one-tenth of a percent of the overall food-applications market, respectively. Both near 10%, their CAGRs from 2014 to 2019 are expected to outpace that of initial systems for food technologies.

As represented in the graph on page 7, six types of products fall within the food-technologies segment. Although many of the products, such as media, labware and kits, are consumables, they are classified as initial systems in the report because they are the sole analytical tool. Consumables and reagents for food-technologies instrumentation are considered aftermarket.

Accounting for the greatest portion of demand in the food-technologies market is cell culture products, which includes plasticware and culture media. The 2014 market for this subsegment was estimated at over $1.25 billion, with a CAGR in the mid-single digits expected from 2014 to 2019. Pathogen kits are the next-largest subsegment, representing more than 15% of demand in 2014 and with an expected CAGR in the high single digits from 2014 to 2019. Pathogen kits are often ELISAs, and most are specific to individual pathogens.

Although accounting for only low-single-digit demand in 2014, other pathogen testers was the third-largest subsegment in the food-technologies market. With newer methods under development for testing pathogens, the subsegment is the fastest growing within the food-technologies segment. These methods include specific PCR tests and other immunoassay-based tests. CAGR is forecast at almost 20% from 2014 to 2019.

The remaining subsegments of the food-technologies market are safety kits (for detecting chemical residue and other substances in food, such as pesticides, fertilizers and toxins), ATP hygiene instruments (for testing the hygiene of equipment and facilities), and water-activity and moisture-analysis instruments (for measuring the vapor pressure of water in a sample to assess the likelihood of bacterial growth and food spoilage).

More than 75% of the demand for food technologies in 2014 was from the US and Canada, and Europe. The CAGRs for these regions are forecast to be in the high single digits from 2014 to 2019, with growth expected to be slightly below average in Europe as well as in the US and Canada. Driven by higher food-safety standards both domestically and internationally, China, India and Latin America are predicted to experience the fastest growth in the food-technologies market, with the CAGRs for each topping 10% between 2014 and 2019.

The food industry is the source of the greatest demand in food technologies, accounting for more than two-thirds of 2014 total demand (including aftermarket and service). Almost another fifth of the demand was from independent testing labs performing testing for the food industry and government. Government and academic labs constituted the remainder of market demand.

More than 75% of the estimated demand in 2014 for the food-technologies market (including aftermarket and service) was for QA/QC functions. Analytical services made up about 15%, while the remainder of demand was for applied R&D, basic research, methods development and other functions.

Few companies dominate the food-technologies market. The three largest providers—3M, Merck KGaA and Thermo Fisher Scientific—each hold less than 15% market share. 3M and Thermo each participate in multiple technology segments, with Thermo selling products for all six segments. In contrast, Merck participates in only two segments, cell culture products and pathogen kits.

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