The food industry had a turnover of approximately € 83.2 billion in 2017, which is considered the largest industry in the Netherlands. It consists of companies that process raw materials into food on an industrial scale. These can be large groups such as Heinz and Unilever, but also medium-sized and smaller companies. The latter are often specialized, for example in the meat products or sugar industry. In addition to private companies, there are cooperative food producers, such as Suiker Unie or Campina.
Most of the turnover of the Dutch food industry comes from exports. The global population is increasing, especially in Asia, South America and Africa. However, population growth is slowing in Northern Europe, so that turnover increases will mainly come from other areas. But it is also expected that more and more will be produced locally, with so-called “local-for-local” markets, which have a radius of about eight hundred kilometers.
This local production is one form of making the food industry more sustainable. But the demand for sustainable food is on the rise and manufacturers are doing everything they can to meet it. For example in livestock farming, where animal welfare and less environmental impact are important issues, or in the cocoa industry, where fair trade is increasingly taking place. The processing of raw materials is also becoming increasingly sustainable, for example by investing in machines that run on solar energy.
However, the increasing demand for food has an unpleasant consequence: it sometimes becomes interesting for producers to defraud with food. For example, horse meat has been sold as beef and honey has been mixed or, in some cases, even replaced by sugar water. And with vegetables, fruit and oils, the country of origin was tampered with. To prevent this, and to protect consumers and producers, all companies must comply with the General Food Regulation (ALV), also known as the Commodities Act. This includes rules on hygienic preparation, packaging and storage of foodstuffs.
At Machinefabriek Westerhof BV we are fully equipped to design and produce machines and components for food. We have our own, specialized stainless steel department for the realization of installations and constructions of the highest quality - which of course meet the strict requirements of the sector.