The food and beverage (F&B) industry has been a major end-user of electric drives in Europe.  The economic slowdown had however an adverse impact on most industries, including the F&B one, impacting on the demand for electric drives. Current dynamics have heightened the need for energy-efficient, highly reliable and appropriate product customization.

New analysis from Frost & Sullivan(,Strategic Analysis of Electric Drives Market in European Food and Beverage Industry, finds that the market earned revenues of Euro 204.89 million in 2010 and estimates this to reach Euro 313.14 million in 2017.

Drives represent 66% of the energy draw

Electric drives represent almost 2/3 of the energy consumption demand in the F&B industry. Surging energy prices have however had a negative impact on the performance of this industry. In this context, energy-efficient drives have helped companies reduce production costs, improve return-on-investment (ROI) and lower CO2 emissions.

"The F&B industry is becoming completely automated, resulting in increased power consumption during the production process," states Frost & Sullivan Research Analyst Raaj Thilak Raveendran. "Companies are also looking to reduce their energy usage by implementing energy-efficient drive technology. Although expensive, energy-efficient drives provide high ROI and reduce operating costs – two advantages that will boost their uptake over the forecast period."

Another important trend is the growing interest of OEMs in decentralized, rather than centralized, drives due to the reduced cost and project planning time they offer. Electric drive manufacturers are planning to launch new products in this segment, which will boost the sales of decentralized drives in the short and medium terms of the forecast period.

Price drops 3% yearly

As the market expands, a major challenge will be intensifying competition. With over 100 drive manufacturers, there is relentless price pressure, resulting in eroding profit margins. "Small participants face challenges like sizeable labor costs, eroding profit margins and industry consolidation," adds Raveendran. "Market participants state that there is a price drop of 3% in electric drives every year, which affects the profit margins of all market participants."

To succeed in this highly competitive market, manufacturers need to expand their product range or identify new applications for their existing products.

"Ease-of-use and cost efficiency are the two main advantages of electric drives in comparison to rival technologies," concludes Raveendran. "Due to these advantages, electric drives have been able to find new applications. To sustain market momentum, manufacturers need to provide a complete range of products that suit the application requirements of both OEMs and end-users."