A lot of robots touch your food before it gets to you

There's growing demand for robots that can do everything from package produce to seal a bag of chips
Written by Greg Nichols, Contributing Writer

The market for food robotics is growing, and it's on pace to become one of the hottest areas of automation in the next few years.

Globally, the market is expected to reach USD 3.35 billion by 2025, according to new forecasts by Research & Markets.

The demand perhaps isn't much of a surprise. Line work in packing plants is repetitive and low-skill, and high turnover in the industry results in lost productivity and high training costs.

While immigrants do not make up the majority of workers in any U.S. industry, they do constitute a sizable percentage of the workforce in food packaging and agriculture. The recent political climate surrounding immigration, coupled with mixed messages and unpredictable policy goals out of the White House, has frightened many in food production-related industries, which in turn has hastened the demand for automation.

According to the research behind the new forecasts, labor costs are also a big driver in food production.

Most of the R&D in this space has focused on tasks like palletizing, packaging, picking, and processing. Of those, the packaging segment is on pace to grow fastest. Advantages to automated packaging include higher efficiency and consistency and lower downtime.

Robots can also work 24 hours and aren't subject to federal and industry-specific laws providing for health services and overtime for workers.

The growth is expected to continue at 15.5 percent CAGR over the forecast period.

The big winners will be established players in automation for light industries, including ABB Group, Kawasaki Heavy Industries, and Fanuc.

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