Anthony Shian Author 

4 Common Operational Problems Food and Drink Manufacturers Face

food manufacturers inspection

Food and drink manufacturers operate in a very busy industry – and busyness is only one worry on their plates. From extra tight deadlines to strict food hygiene laws, food and drink manufacturers have a lot of moving parts that all need to click into place for their businesses to operate smoothly and efficiently. 

When relying on various things to all fall into place, there’s bound to be problems. Unfortunately, some are unavoidable like power outages and global pandemics. However, avoidable problems cause unnecessary downtime and hit businesses in their pockets and dent their reputation. 

So, what problems do food and drink manufacturers encounter on a typical day in the warehouse? This post will outline the four most common operational problems that businesses have to work to overcome.


We’ll cover: 


What is a Food and Drink Manufacturer?

Well, without stating the obvious too much, these manufacturers are businesses that produce food and drink products. Food and drink manufacturing is the largest industry in the UK and contributes over £28.2 billion to the economy each year. The industry is crucial to the health and stability of the UK – not just financially, but filling the nation’s bellies too. 

Think about it, without food and drink, none of us would even survive. Therefore, you could forget about any other industries being populated and contributing to the market. So, the industry is the backbone of the economy and national wellbeing too. Without it, there’d be no others. 


food manufacturers hygiene


As the industry is so large, the range of different food and drink manufacturing businesses is so vast. From biscuit factories and abattoirs to sports drinks laboratories and their distribution centres, there are various working environments. With differing environments brings the potential for various problems. 


Contamination of Goods

The main operational problem that can have the largest impact is contamination. Whether that’s contaminated products from a workplace that hasn’t been cleaned properly or cross-contamination of goods from being prepared incorrectly. As people are going to be consuming your products, contamination can kill.

Whilst that may sound severe, it couldn’t be any more true. If you’re a large food manufacturer and produce a wide range of products that vary different food types, cross-contaminating is easily done. Whilst an easy mistake to make, it could be fatal for customers further down the line. If somebody eats something that’s contaminated with a product they’re allergic to, your business could find itself in hot water. 

To ensure that cross-contamination doesn’t happen at all, you should provide your team members with rigorous training and outline strict procedures in line with the most recent food and drink hygiene restrictions. One small mistake could lead to your business having to fork out thousands of pounds in compensation. 

Warehouses and factories are busy places, so it’s only normal that there’s general operational dirt and the odd spillage on the floors. However, if this isn’t cleaned up properly, bacteria can form on the mess and can, unfortunately, spread onto products nearby. This will then contaminate them and will mean they have to be disposed of, proving to be a waste of money and leaving you to order new products. 


Tight Deadlines

Within the industry, time is money. So, everything must work like clockwork for maximum profitability and productivity. Deliveries of ingredients and shipment of products are booked in tight delivery slots, so should your business miss these windows, it can cause a huge knock-on effect and delays to the whole of your operations. 

When working to tight deadlines, the working environment is often pressured. Which if paired with not having the right amount of staff on the job or taking on too much work, can lead to extreme stress and may overwhelm team members. When feeling like this, your team won’t be working to their full potential and productivity levels may be impacted. 


tight deadlines food and drink manufacturers


Tight deadlines can produce testing times for your workforce. Tension can cause team morale to fall, which in turn will have a negative impact throughout your operations. Teams perform better when they’re bouncing off each other and working together, not being worked too hard so that they’re miserable and dread going to work. 

The best way to tackle tight deadlines head-on is to ensure that your allocated team can comfortably work at the required output level. Bear in mind that you should leave a little extra capacity to account for mistakes or one-off jobs. If your team is working at full capacity all of the time, you run the risk of burning them out.


Large Volume of Orders

As your business grows, you’ll start receiving more and more orders. For example, if your business agrees to a contract with a large national supermarket chain, your order volumes will see a massive increase. Similarly to tight deadlines, if you’re not prepared properly for large orders, you’ll fail miserably. 

It’s not just your workforce that has to be prepared for the dramatic rise in custom either. Is your workplace and the relevant equipment up to the task too? If you’re trying to fulfil orders suitable for a small to medium-sized business on equipment that’s designed for startup businesses, you’re likely to encounter machine breakdowns and the resulting downtime. 

Just because you’re taking on more orders than ever before doesn’t mean that your customers will give you more leeway. Oh no, you can rid that thought from your mind immediately. They’ve chosen to partner with you as you’re a manufacturer that’s well known for your reliability and efficiency, so they’ll be expecting just that. 

As the old saying goes, “failure to prepare, prepare for failure” and that’s exactly what’ll happen if you’re unprepared for a large volume of orders. If you fail to deliver your promise, your business could be faced with issuing refunds, losing custom and harming your reputation – and once formed, the latter is incredibly hard to overturn. 



Downtime is the biggest cost for any business in industry. FACT. But what is it? Well, downtime is a consequence of previous events that lead to a temporary partial or full halt in operations. For example, in the food and drink manufacturing industry, if there’s a regional power cut, you won’t be able to run your machines and, therefore, will have no product. 

Without any products, you can’t make money. There are two types of downtime, unavoidable and avoidable. Unfortunately, there’s nothing you can do about unavoidable downtime, it’s just hard luck. You can’t control power cuts or global pandemics, can you? However, you can control avoidable downtime and if you’re constantly experiencing it, you need to improve the efficiency of your operations.  


downtime cost what is downtime


Team members slipping on spillages or experiencing other accidents in the workplace because the right safety measures haven’t been implemented is an example of avoidable downtime. You have the control to ensure that the floor is regularly industrially cleaned, so there’s no excuse for maximising the chances of an accident through poor practice. 

Depending on the severity of the downtime, it can cripple businesses and bring them to their knees – especially in the food and drink manufacturing industry. Food and drink products have a particularly short shelf life and if they can’t be stored or treated properly due to downtime, you’re going to need to throw away a lot of products and, therefore, waste time and money.


Industrial Floor Cleaners Can Improve Your Business Hygiene

Hygiene within the food and drink manufacturing industry is vitally important. After all, people are going to be consuming your products, so you can’t risk them eating or drinking something contaminated from your workplace. So, your hygiene needs to be on point. 

Keeping strict procedures when producing your products is one way to ensure that hygiene levels are upheld throughout the business. Paired with a comprehensive cleaning routine, you’re onto a winner! Remember, don’t forget to clean the floor – it’s probably the dirtiest part of your workplace and the biggest threat to your products. 

Cleaning the floor can often seem laborious and tedious but not with an industrial cleaning machine. For more information on how these powerful and robust pieces of equipment can help you, we’ve created a free guide that outlines all the benefits and different features. Grab your free copy!