Loss of craftmanship: what role can machine play?
Food crafts: a delicate situation
The food industry represents a group of trades that include the preparation of products for human consumption. In this category we can mention cooks, butchers, bakers, pastry cooks, pizza makers, or confectioners.
These professions are categorized as belonging to the craft sector when these workers make their products with traditional techniques, therefore mostly manual. This notion has been much talked about in a world that is increasingly automated and mechanized, where craftsmanship is linked to the notion of art, as the etymology of the word indicates.
In 2018, the craft sector represented, among others:
- 33,341 artisan bakers;
- 4,968 artisan pastry chefs;
- 3,501 artisan butchers.
But among the total number of companies in this sector there are 47% related to the craft, the rest having adopted industrial production methods. Sandwiched between the notions of “tradition” and “modernity”, food artisans are struggling to cope with production methods that flood the market with industrial products marketed at low prices.
Mechanization at the service of food artisans
Integrating mechanization into the food industry is a major challenge. The idea is to integrate the technological revolution to facilitate production, without affecting the quality of products, through:
- The reduction of time and physical efforts related to production;
- The standardization of the product’s quality;
- The adaptation to the standards of the final products.
Mechanize, yes. But to what extent?
In order to draw the line between craft and industry, it is important that certain processes remain in line with traditional production techniques. In France, artisans can be distinguished by controlled designations such as “pain maison” or “pain de tradition française” in the field of bakery. These designations correspond to a very specific method of production of the products concerned. The number of employees and the quantity of raw materials consumed over a given period of time also play a role in categorizing an establishment as artisanal.
Thus, the partial use of machines in the manufacturing process of food products is by no means a brake on craftsmanship. On the contrary, it pushes small businesses towards development while maintaining their artisanal character.
Challenges of tomorrow: mechanization for better development ?
The integration of machines into the processes of the food industry is slow. However, it is essential in the face of the new challenges that these craftsmen are facing. Caplain Machines is one of the suppliers of professional equipment designed to support the growth of this sector of activity. To learn more, discover our products.