salmonella

Food Contract Labs Are Taking a Big Bite Out of Food Safety Testing

In the past 5 years, food contract labs (FCLs) have shown a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) that exceeds overall growth in the food safety testing market. Clearly, FCLs are taking market share from food plant labs (FPLs).

As covered in last week’s blog, the 40,000 food plants worldwide are finding the running of in-plant food labs to be increasingly complex. Faced with FSMA and the possible requirement of lab accreditation, particularly for analysis of food safety compliance samples, more and more food companies are questioning the role and scope of their food plant labs (FPLs)—and considering alternatives.

One alternative is to utilize a food contract lab (FCL) for all compliance samples while continuing to analyze other food safety samples at the FPL. Another is to shut down the food plant lab entirely and utilize FCLs for all food safety test analysis. Yet a third is to have a food contract lab locate a ‘lab-in-a-box’ just outside the food plant or to have the FCL take over the food plant lab operations.

Salmonella, food safety testing, food contract lab

Strategic Consulting, Inc. (SCI) has been monitoring food safety testing for 15+ years, and has documented this shift in business from FPLs to outside labs. Based on data from SCI’s thousands of interviews with food plant QA/QC managers, there is a clear trend in food plants to send samples outside for analysis. The following chart is based on SCI interviews with U.S. food plants regarding where Salmonella samples are analyzed. In 2013, 61% of U.S. food plants sent Salmonella samples outside for analysis. Just twelve years ago, in 2001, the reverse was true, and 63% of the U.S. food plants did the analysis at food plant labs.

At one point all food plants had laboratories. In the 1970s, a few entrepreneurs began what has now grown into a thriving food contract lab industry. Many of the early entrepreneurs established outside laboratories with their own expertise as the foundation. Acting as subject matter experts and consultants, these scientist-entrepreneurs provided knowledge that helped their food industry clients solve food safety issues. Many of the early food contract labs were microbiology-based, due to industry needs and the lower cost of entry for micro versus other types of testing. These early FCLs grew through personalized service, expert consulting, scientific proficiency and strong client relationships. Over time, FCLs added basic chemistry services as necessary to support the needs of food company clients.

food contract lab, food safety testing

According to Strategic Consulting’s newest market research report, Food Contract Lab Report, there are 2,350 FCLs worldwide and they generated revenues of more than $3.0 billion in 2013. In fact, over the past five years, the food contract lab industry has shown a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) that exceeds overall growth in the food safety testing market. Clearly, FCLs are taking market share from the food plant labs.


Food Contract Lab Market

The FCL growth rate varies slightly by geographic region and business area (microbiology, chemistry, services) but frankly, all areas are growing well.

FCL Geographic Region Analysis

  • Europe is the largest region based on total FCL revenues, but is showing slower growth than other geographic regions. Chemistry revenues remain strong in the EU.
  • North America is second in total revenues, but is catching the EU, driven by large increases in microbiology revenues.
  • Asia and the rest of the world (ROW) have the smallest total revenues but the greatest growth potential of the four geographic regions.

FCL Business Area Analysis

  • The microbiology business area is second in total revenues but growing quickly, with increases in both routine micro and pathogen analysis.
  • Chemistry is the largest business area but slowing in growth compared to the other business areas.
  • Currently the smallest, the Services business area is growing quite quickly due to increasing demand from food companies.

The future for food contract laboratories looks strong, and five years out, SCI expects FCLs to have continued their growth in market share. FSMA will push companies outside the U.S. (OUS) to utilize accredited labs for compliance testing, which will drive rapid growth for FCLs particularly in the markets in Asia and Latin America.

Next: The evolving nature of the food contract lab business.

 

 

 

 

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5 Food Safety Testing Trends Expected for 2014

Food safety testing is changing dramatically, and new research from Strategic Consulting, Inc. projects 5 emerging trends for 2014.

Two new reports from Strategic Consulting, Inc. (SCI), a management consulting firm focused on food safety and industrial diagnostics, point to five major trends for 2014 in the global food microbiology testing market. SCI’s food microbiology research reports are based on extensive interviews with QA/QC managers in food processing facilities around the world, and one-on-one discussions with food safety experts from academia, government and industry, as well as diagnostic test manufacturers.

With public concern about food safety growing, and the increasing globalization of the food supply chain, it is a critical and challenging time in the food microbiology diagnostics business. There are a number of dynamics at play that present both opportunities and minefields for players in this field. As in any market, those well informed and positioned will benefit.

Data from two new reports, Food Micro, Eighth Edition: Microbiology Testing in the Global Food Industry and Food Contract Lab Report (FCLR) point to five major trends for 2014: read more…

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8 Things to Know about Bacterial Outbreaks from the Recent CDC Report on Foodborne Outbreaks and Illness

I’ve spent some time analyzing the recent data released by the CDC on foodborne disease outbreaks and illnesses for the period 1998-2010. My basic conclusion from a review of the numbers is that our food supply seems to be safer than the broad estimates provided by the CDC and, as a result, reported by the news media and assumed by the general public.

I discuss some of the broad numbers in my latest blog for Food Safety Magazine, but drill down specifically into foodborne bacterial outbreaks in this blog. read more…

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Comparing Food Safety Testing Practices in the US and Europe: How Fast Is Fast Enough?

US food producers are moving more quickly to new, rapid technologies for their food safety testing programs, while their European counterparts remain more faithful to traditional microbiology test methods, according to Food Micro—7, a new market research report from Strategic Consulting, Inc.

Woodstock, VT October 2, 2012 — A new study comparing food safety testing in the United States and Europe points to key differences between these two large food producing regions, and projects continued but differing growth in the size and value of their respective food microbiology testing markets.

Food Micro, Seventh Edition: Comparison of the Food Microbiology Testing Markets in the US and EU (Food Micro—7) from Strategic Consulting, Inc. (SCI), compares total test volume, market value and growth in food microbiology testing, including the organisms tested and the technologies used for food safety testing in each region. read more…

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Multiplexing for Food Pathogen Analysis

There is a growing need for multiplexing capability for food pathogen analysis.

Historically, food pathogen analysis has relied on assays that measure one analyte at a time. To date, multiplex assays that can simultaneously measure several analytes in a single test have not been feasible, either technically or in fitting into the plant workflow. read more…

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It Doesn’t Have To Be Molecular To Be A Good Pathogen Test

The Vidas UP Salmonella combines phage technology and a simplified process to improve specificity and speed results.

bioMerieux’s Vidas UP Salmonella test is good. It’s easy to use, provides excellent sensitivity/specificity, is fast and isn’t as expensive as comparable molecular methods. What’s not to like? read more…

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Food Safety Pathogen Testing Market at an Inflection Point

Given it’s the end of summer and vacation time for many, August has been surprisingly full of new information on the pathogen testing market for the U.S. food industry. Much of the buzz began at the recent annual meeting of the International Association for Food Protection in Milwaukee, where a big presence and rumored activity by major market players was evident. read more…

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