PET Food Processing - June 2018 - 61



Processing efficiencies can be found in surprising places.

By Jennifer Semple |


The art of efficiently producing a wide range of formulas
in an increasing number of configurations is only getting
more challenging as new trends sweep across the pet food
and pet treat markets at high speeds. As formulas and processing systems evolve to meet market demands, methods
to improve efficiency are evolving as well.
Pet food and treat options available to U.S. pet owners
have exploded in recent years. According to market research firm GfK, the number of brands has increased 71%
since 2011 and now totals 630. The number of SKUs is up
88% over that same period and tops 22,000.
The increase in different pet diets can also be an obstacle
for processors. "The complexity of today's pet food recipes
- the high-meat, high-fat, low-starch formulas - are challenging to run on extruders," says John Krehbiel, vice president of sales for C.J. Foods, Bern, Kansas, "and the number
of relatively small-batch or per-diet production runs requires more product changeovers."
As a co-manufacturer for more than 30 premium- and
super-premium-level pet food companies, C.J. Foods is

finding packaging as challenging as production. "The
net-weight bag size is consistently getting smaller," says
Krehbiel. "We're seeing a larger percentage of a production
run going into bag sizes of less than 10 lbs. and a smaller
percentage going into bag sizes of more than 20 lbs."
Krehbiel explains that staying ahead of the packaging
curve offers the best potential to optimize a pet food processing facility. "Being in a position to have the packaging
capability and capacity to match the extruder rate is by far
the greatest challenge today. Understanding what kind of
packaging lines you have, how those lines are staffed and
how best to schedule the packaging runs are key to optimizing both the physical and human assets."
Packaging automation might be a good solution for
companies producing a high volume of limited SKUs, but
Krehbiel says manual bagging and even manual palletization can sometimes be a better option. "With the challenge
of producing multiple product formulations that translate
to a multitude of SKUs at the point of packaging, we're finding that less automation and sophistication can be more efProduct recovery or
"pigging" systems work
by sending a special projectile called a pig through
the line at the very start of
a product changeover.


Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of PET Food Processing - June 2018