According to the report, macroeconomic indicators point toward a potential rise:
- Appreciation of Chinese currency in relation to western currencies
- Labor rate inflation
- Concerns about possibly supply interruption arising from conditions in other countries
- Lowering energy costs in the US, due to shale gas prospects.
For US manufacturing to make a recovery, study authors claim, a number of challenges must be met:
- The supplier network (dissipated when orders were sent overseas) will need to be strengthened again
- Equipment will need to be replaced and/or updated
- The labor talent pool, weakened when skilled labor demand went abroad with outsourced manufacturing, will need to be re-educated.
Helping the trend along, US retailers are showing increased interest in domestically produced products.
Bill Simon, president/CEO of Walmart US, announced in January a commitment to buy an additional $50 billion in US products over the next 10 years. Walmart being a thought leader in US retail, the move has inspired other companies to follow suit and likely will continue to do so.
Processing-related manufacturing firms are reporting they are seeing growth and potential for increased sales down the road. For example, packaging equipment and materials firm Tetra Pak is enjoying increased sales in several areas.
In an interview with FoodProductionDaily.com, Jean Pierre Berlan, sales and marketing director for processing in the dairy and cheese categories for Tetra Pak US and Canada, said the company has been seeing growth in the US for a time.
“Recent years have been very strong in terms of equipment demand in some of the categories Tetra Pak is present,” he said.
Berlan indicated positive signs in the following categories:
- Ice cream: The last three to four years have seen a strong increase in equipment demand; consolidation efforts are part of the reason for the growth.
- ESL/aseptic dairy products: While still behind Europe, US interest in shelf-stable milk, coffee creamers, nut milks and other products.
- Cultured products: Consumer interest in Greek yogurt especially is fueling the uptick in this area.
- Cheese: Consumers in the US and abroad are buying more cheese products; cheese and milk powder are strong export products.
- Foreign investors: Berlan indicated he has noticed investment from overseas company is fuelling technology advancements and increased capacity.
Tetra Pak’s Packaging Solutions and Processing Solutions divisions grew last year. Sales figures show that North America was among the strongest growth centers.