Monthly Archives: May 2014

SCI Research Poster Compares Global Food Micro Testing

Download the research poster “Comparison of Current Food Microbiology Testing Practices in North America, Europe, and Asia” presented at the 2014 American Society for Microbiology (ASM) General Meeting in Boston.

Food safety is a concern worldwide, particularly with the increased globalization of the food supply. Strategic Consulting, Inc. (SCI) investigated food micro testing practices in food plants around the world to document similarities and differences in food safety testing. Tom Weschler, president of Strategic Consulting, presented a summary of the research findings at the 2014 American Society for Microbiology General Meeting in Boston.

food micro testing, food safety, research, SCI

Download SCI’s research poster on global food micro testing.

A detailed report on the research, entitled “Food Micro, Eighth Edition: Microbiology Testing in the Global Food Industry (Food Micro—8),” also is available from Strategic Consulting.

Get more information on Food Micro—8.

The data presented in the SCI poster and in Food Micro—8 is compiled from 450 detailed interviews conducted in 19 countries. Strategic Consulting has accumulated in-depth information on food microbiology testing trends and practices over the last 15 years, and has published the information in eight food micro market research reports. All SCI market research reports deliver extensive new data as well as detailed historical perspective and, as a result, are widely accepted by leading diagnostic manufacturers and investors as highly credible analyses of the industry.

Visit Our Market Reports page for more information on all of Strategic Consulting’s market research reports, or call Bob Ferguson at 1-443-244-5245.

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Microbiology Testing for Food Safety Differs Around the World

Given the increased globalization of the food supply, Strategic Consulting, Inc. investigated food microbiology testing practices in food plants around the world to document similarities and differences in food safety testing. The findings were presented last week at the American Society for Microbiology General Meeting in Boston.

Food safety is a concern worldwide, and one that is growing in visibility for the public, food companies and regulators. Food recalls are frequent, and regulations to help address food safety do not always meet expectations. Consumer concern grows along with the increasing recalls and resulting media coverage. Food producers continue to make sizable investments in food safety improvements but still remain at risk, and food service and retail companies continue to increase requirements of food producers. These issues are exacerbated as the global sourcing of the food we eat increases.

Strategic Consulting, Inc. (SCI) investigated global food microbiology testing to better understand variations in food safety testing practices across the globe. A summary of SCI findings were presented in a poster delivered last week at the American Society for Microbiology General Meeting in Boston. A detailed report on the findings entitled “Food Micro, Eighth Edition: Microbiology Testing in the Global Food Industry (Food Micro—8)” also is available from Strategic Consulting.

Download SCI’s research poster on global food micro testing.

The specific areas investigated were:

  • Food microbiology test volume
  • Routine versus pathogen testing
  • Points in the production process where food microbiology samples are collected
  • Microbiology methods used for test methods

Similarities in Food Safety Testing Around the World

Overall, food microbiology testing is high and growing all around the globe. Food microbiology test volumes are similar in North America (NA), Europe (EU) and Asia. The populations of these regions are quite different, however, and the ratio of tests/population varies, from highest in North America to lowest in Asia.

microbiology testing, food safety, world

Food microbiology testing is divided between routine microbiology, which tests for indicators of contamination in food plants and finished products, and pathogen testing, which looks for specific pathogenic organisms known to cause foodborne illness. The split between routine and pathogen testing is similar in all regions. In North America routine microbiology accounts for 76% of test volume, and in the EU and Asia it accounts for 81% and 72% of test volume respectively. The testing by organism for both routine and pathogen tests also is generally similar around the world.

Greatest Differences Are in Sample Collection and Test Methods

SCI research found that where food safety samples are collected is one of the major areas of difference around the world, and food plants in Asia differ most from those in other regions. In-process/environmental testing accounts for just 9% of total test volume in Asian food plants, while worldwide 25% of test samples are collected in process and in the production environment. Other regions collect more in-process/environmental samples to support proactive HACCP programs among other reasons. In all regions, testing of end-products accounts for 44% to 59% of test volume.

For pathogen tests, food plants in North America collect just 8% of samples from raw materials, and in-process/environmental sampling is much more prevalent at 44% of samples. In contrast, 8% of pathogen samples are collected from in-process/ environmental sources in food plants in Asia.

There are also major differences in the microbiological methods used for analysis of food safety tests. For routine testing, NA uses more easy-to-use “convenience methods” (e.g. PetrifilmTM), which account for 52% of all routine testing. The EU uses more traditional, culture-based methods, which make up 63% of routine test analysis. Pathogen testing in NA also is highly oriented toward rapid methods, with 94% of test analysis conducted with molecular and antibody-based methods. The EU still relies heavily on traditional or convenience culture methods for pathogen tests, with 61% of tests analyzed using them. Asia relies most heavily on traditional methods, for both routine and pathogen testing, of all the regions studied.

Food Micro—8 is based on 450 detailed interviews conducted in 19 countries by Strategic Consulting, Inc. SCI has researched and integrated data on food microbiology diagnostics trends and practices over the last 15 years, and published the data in eight market research reports. Delivering both extensive new data and a detailed historical perspective, Strategic Consulting market research reports are widely accepted by leading diagnostic manufacturers and investors as highly credible analyses of the industry.

 

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The Food Contract Lab Business Approaches 50

The third in our series of blog posts discussing the importance of food contract labs (FCLs) to the food safety testing market, this week we look at the evolution of the FCL market over the last 50 years.

Food contract labs were started by entrepreneurial scientists beginning in the late 1960s. The early FCL entrepreneurs often had areas of specialization, and set up independent laboratories to provide food company clients with services and analyses in those areas (mainly microbiology).

Over time, some of these labs grew into regional, and even national, networks of labs. Deibel and Silliker Labs are prime examples of FCLs that followed this path in the 1970s and ‘80s, and into the early ‘90s.

food contract lab, Silliker, Deibel, SGS, Eurofins

As 2000 approached, the FCL industry was undergoing major changes:

  • With financial support from their new owner, Merieux Alliance, Silliker undertook an aggressive, international growth-by-acquisition initiative.
  • IEH Laboratories began its extensive growth, principally through acquisitions of independent U.S. labs.
  • With its public listing in 1997, Eurofins embarked on an impressive growth spurt, also fueled mainly by acquisitions, that now totals 190 labs.
  • SGS began to expand into the food contract lab space, becoming a major player in the field.

TIC Companies Enter the Food Contract Lab Market

It is also worth mentioning that over the last ten years, more and more TIC (Testing, Inspection, Certification) companies are entering the FCL market. What was originally a business based on food safety expertise is evolving into one more tightly tied to the broader testing, inspection, and certification market.

Testing Inspection Certification Company, SCS, Bureau Veritas, Dekra, TUV, DNV,Germanisher Lloyd

The global TIC industry is huge, with revenues of more than $120 billion in 2010. TIC companies started over 300 years ago to provide common measurements for shipping and other commercial activities. Today the TIC industry is growing worldwide, but particularly in the emerging economies of Asia and South America, spurred by a combination of regulatory and economic factors. One key driver is increased global trade and a resulting consumer demand for improved food quality and safety. As a result, leading food manufacturers are requiring third party inspections and certifications of products and services.

Like the food contract lab market, the TIC market also is consolidating, and over the past five years there have been significant and sizable acquisitions. The ten leading TIC companies represent only 37% of the global market, but all are billion-dollar companies with tens of thousands of employees and more than 1,000 locations globally. In addition, all of these companies occupy market-leading positions in both emerging and developed economies. Most of the top-10 companies provide testing, inspection, verification, audit, accreditation and consulting services, and attempt to manage global supply chains and reduce operational, product and market risks to clients. In other words, these TIC companies have strong existing relationships with all the global food companies.

These strong, multi-faceted relationships are powerful springboards for the TIC companies in the food contract lab market—and NOT something that the traditional FCL companies have to offer. Thus TIC companies have some unique advantages over other FCLs (e.g., bundled pricing and multiple international contact points), even the more global traditional FCLs. As of now, at least four of the top-10 TIC companies are in the FCL business, and two of them (SGS and Eurofins) are among the top-3 global FCL companies based on 2013 revenue estimates.

It is hard to forecast what’s next for the food contract lab market. Given current trends and drivers, the market clearly will continue to grow and take share. Not as clear is which companies will be the dominant FCL companies five years from now.

In our next blog: What does the boom in FCLs mean for food safety diagnostics companies?

 

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