Is the food industry ready for El Niño?

By Matt Jones, Service innovation and Development Manager at Rentokil
Monday, 23 October, 2023

Is the food industry ready for El Niño?

Last month, the Bureau of Meteorology declared an El Niño weather event, meaning we’re set to see warmer and drier weather conditions across the country. These conditions have a significant impact on pest behaviour, accelerated by a mild winter that has seen higher than normal breeding numbers, and insects that have come out of hibernation early.

This new weather cycle is therefore set to increase populations of flying insects, such as flies and mosquitoes, as well as the usual suspects that Australians find in their homes and businesses: ants, cockroaches and spiders — all which carry disease and pathogens.

The warmer weather also tends to encourage pests indoors to escape the heat, and source water and food. The chances of experiencing pest activity in your business are therefore increasingly likely, and management measures that worked last year won’t necessarily be as effective this year.

When it comes to pests, prevention is better than cure

Earlier this year we asked Australian consumers about their experiences with pests, and we found that they’re increasingly concerned. 78% stated they’re worried about finding creepy crawlies in their food or workplace. Worse still, a quarter told us that they’d found a pest or signs of a pest in their food over the last three years.

The food and beverage industry has a duty of care to its end consumer, to ensure the product people are buying and consuming is safe. Consequently, implementing processes to prevent infestation, rather than treating the symptom, is paramount.

With El Niño conditions coming into force well ahead of summer starting, businesses within the food and beverage industry need to act urgently to mitigate the risk of pests.

Pests are costly for businesses

In the last three years, 75% of businesses in the food industry have suffered loss of revenue, reputational damage or produce damage due to pests. Unfortunately, this is the reality when prevention isn’t a pillar in your pest management strategy.

Prevention means having a regular and effective pest management protocol in place, executed by a trained professional. The result is a sustainable method of treating pests before they become an issue, resulting in a cheaper and more effective solution.

Prevention doesn’t mean blast spraying your entire premises at the sign of a pest. Pest control has evolved to use science, innovation and technology to help businesses sustainably prevent, treat and control pest activity.

Modern and effective pest management incorporates data and insights to build a tailored plan that will effectively protect your business for the future. Prevention is akin to creating an expert analysis of a business, taking into account its location, size, equipment and product and building a comprehensive — but highly targeted — strategy to create protective barriers for the business. This includes using innovative technologies to provide real-time data on pest activity allowing technicians to treat issues on an as-needed basis, as well as developing sustainable solutions and processes for business to embed in their safety framework.

We’ve worked across many businesses in the food industry and have found that those that have been troubled by infestations are often those that didn’t understand or implement preventive pest solutions within their business.

With a lot of unknowns facing businesses in the food and beverage industry as we approach drought conditions, one thing we know for sure is that removing the risk of dealing with increased pest activity is vital to protecting your business’s reputation and customer loyalty from the known risk of pests.

Image credit: Maisheva

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