Sandwich manufacturers are wary of being the first to market with a fully-automated sandwich system, according to a report from the British Sandwich Association (BSA).

The report examines how technology will shape the industry, and suggested it will pose a challenge for the UK sandwich and food-to-go markets over the next 10 years.

It also highlights the skills shortages faced by the food industry and the costs of meeting demand for healthier and environmentally friendlier products. The cost implications in meeting legislative changes following the Brexit vote are also expected to have a significant impact.

 “There is little real automation in factories making sandwiches,” states the report. “The bread may be buttered by a machine and carried along a conveyor, but the fillings are added largely by hand.

“Machines only re-enter the picture to cut the sandwich, which is then packaged by hand. Typically, a production line may employ around 20 workers on shift.

“Although there some ‘robotic’ lines, these are relatively limited as they currently cannot generally cope with the variability of ingredients and are therefore limited to fillings that can be consistently applied.”

The report was launched at the BSA AGM and conference in Birmingham earlier this month.