The June/July issue of Food Safety Insights is now available and follows up what we learned in the April/May issue about the major trends in food safety testing, namely 1) continued growth in testing volume, 2) growth and changes in environmental monitoring, 3) outsourcing and growth in the lab markets, and 4) WGS. In the June/July issue, we wanted to dig further into the numbers behind these trends.
One caution – as we mention in the article, the data for the article was collected and developed during peaks in the COVID-19 epidemic which has disrupted everything about food processing. We have tried to separate any impacts from COVID-19 from the longer term impacts of these trends. The short-term disruptions from COVID – 19 will end eventually and we project that we will get back to the longer-term underlying drivers of testing. If there are lasting impacts from COVID-19 that significantly change any of these trends, or cause new ones to develop, we will address these in a future article.
The first trend that is clear in our data is the steady pressure toward more testing volume. While most processors report that their test volumes will remain “about the same” the number of processors that report increasing volumes outnumber those with decreasing volume by about 4 to 1. A key factor in these volume increases reported by processors is the main driver is business – that is they are reporting that they are testing more because they are making and selling more product. Processors also report that more of their customers are requesting more testing data. These two factors combine for a sustainable and steady driver for growth.
A high proportion of this increase in test volume is also due to environmental monitoring – and especially with Listeria being the test target. This demand is continuing to drive Listeria test volumes keeping it the fastest growing test target (pathogen or non-pathogen).
It is also clear that processors are relying more on their lab partners for analysis and continuing to do less and less testing in-house. The amount of pathogen testing outsourced has grown for a long time in an effort to get pathogens out of the plant. Increasingly, however – and it shows up in this survey – more and more processors are sending out their indicator or non-pathogen samples too. This will continue to drive growth in the lab markets creating opportunities for growth for commercial labs, and also continue the M&A activity in that market.
You can see more in the Food Safety Insights article in Food Safety Magazine here – https://www.foodsafetymagazine.com/magazine-archive1/junejuly-2020/trends-in-food-safety-testing/