The Future for the Pet Food Industry Looks Promising
The future looks extremely promising for the pet food industry. In 2017, sales of pet food continued its healthy growth trajectory and rose by almost 6% reaching $26 billion according to Packaged Facts.
Much of the growth in the pet food industry is due to trends such as humanisation and premiumisation which continue to gain momentum. There’s also been an increase in online sales.
Trends Have Sparked Innovation
We previously looked at some of the key pet food trends and how pigging can help in a previous blog article. Some of these key trends included ingredients such as blueberries, pumpkins and kale as well as popular human food trends such as ‘clean label’, ‘free from’ and ‘organic’ – all of which have percolated down from human foods to the pet food chain.
Pet food manufacturers have responded to these trends, and in the past 18 months there has been an explosion of product offerings that mirror many of the trends in human food. 2017 even saw the introduction of novelty pet products, such as beer and ice lollies for dogs.
Larger Pet Food Manufacturers Jumping on Bandwagon
With the humanisation trend showing no sign of slowing down any time soon, even larger manufacturers sense an opportunity and have now jumped on the bandwagon.
In the upcoming year, even more human food trends are expected to migrate over to the pet food industry.
Although these trends provide an opportunity for pet food manufacturers to innovate, they also pose a serious challenge regarding efficiency. Especially for larger manufacturers and those who process many different formulations and configurations of pet food.
Challenge for Pet Food Manufacturers
For pet food manufacturers who process a large variety of different products such as ‘grain free’, ‘sources of protein’ and ‘organic’, it’s inefficient to have a dedicated line for each of these products.
A more efficient option would be to keep the number of lines to a minimum and use each line for different products. And the greater the variety of products and formulations they produce, the more important this becomes.
But, why is efficiency so important? When it comes to pet food processing plants (or any plant that processes liquids), even a minor improvement in efficiency can reap big awards. After all, being more efficient means you can produce more for less – which translates into increased profits and a competitive advantage.
Problems of Using the Same Line?
While using the same line for different formulations and configurations is desirable, it can also cause efficiency problems. Product changeovers are time-intensive and require investment in company resources and labour.
That’s because, each time you change from one product to another, there will be residual product from prior production remaining in the line. This needs to be removed to avoid cross-contamination issues.
For pet food manufacturers that process multiple products, implementing an effective product changeover process is essential. And the more changeovers there are, the more downtime there will be, which means time not producing the product. So it’s important to ensure that changeovers are as fast as possible.
Pet Food – Pumped at High Pressures
Processing pet food is also a challenge for manufacturers as many formulations have a thick consistency, meaning they often need to be pumped at high pressures. They can also be extremely difficult to remove from the interior of pipelines.
In many pet food manufacturing plants, it’s quite common to use flushes, washouts, and clean in place (CIP) technology to remove product residue from plant processing equipment. However, the disadvantage of these methods is that they generate a lot of unnecessary waste.
They are also time-intensive, often taking hours to clean. This is due to the difficulty of cleaning many pet food formulations which are often thick and sticky in consistency. These methods of cleaning also require large amounts of labour and require significant amounts of water and chemicals to clean the pipelines. Even then, there can still be product residue remaining in the pipeline.
Another major disadvantage of these methods is that they flush perfectly useable product to waste. Plus, the chemicals and cleaning agents essential for cleaning can also incur high disposal costs as well as the initial costs to purchase them.
Therefore, it’s no surprise that an increasing number of pet food manufacturers throughout the world are implementing product recovery (‘pigging’) systems into their processing plants.
Efficiency Improvements by Pigging
Pigging systems quickly, easily and cost-effectively solve many challenges for pet food processors. Especially (but not exclusively) those with many different configurations and formulations of pet food.
Pigging systems recover pet food product remaining in the pipelines after product changeovers. The technology works by using a highly effective, specialist projectile (‘the pig’), which has a diameter slightly larger than the pipeline it is cleaning.
HPS pipeline pigs recover up to 99.5% of product that would otherwise be wasted. The product is then sent to the filler, tank, canning, or packaging or it could also be sent to the rest of the product to continue processing.
Pigging technology increases product yields significantly and also increases the capacity of the plant enabling manufacturers to produce more product for less.
Pigging Speeds up Changeovers
Essentially, pigging enables pet food manufacturers to achieve the same output in less time and using less resources.
The technology also lowers costs, streamlines processing, reducing the effort required, making pet food processing operations a lot faster. In some cases, some process stages can be eliminated completely.
As well as recovering valuable product, pigging also speeds up changeovers and minimises downtime. At the same time, the chances of cross-contamination are greatly reduced as the pig has removed nearly every drop of pet food from the line.
Water usage is also significantly reduced, as long flush outs are no longer required due to the high recovery rates of the pig. There’s also the added advantage that pigging systems boast an attractive return on investment (ROI) with rapid payment periods (learn more about pigging system return on investment).
Lot Traceability and Batch Control in Pet Food Manufacture
Being able to trace ingredients, raw products and generally anything in your supply chain is essential for pet food manufacturing plants.
Having traceability helps pet food companies execute product recalls quicker with less risk to their brand and reputation. It can also help manage inventory and minimise unnecessary waste.
That’s where pigging comes in, as the technology helps pet food manufacturers improve lot traceability and batch control by segmenting batches and creating clear barriers between them.
So, if a contamination and cross-contamination incident does occur, manufacturers will be able to identify the precise allocation and root of the problem, therefore minimising the damaging related to a product recall.
So, if you’re involved with processing, packaging or manufacturing “wet” pet foods or emulsions, you really should stop flushing good product down the drain, speed up your changeover times and take advantage of the range of other benefits that pigging offers.
Find Out More
The benefits of pigging systems are extensive. So, if you would like to bring these benefits to your organisation, then please get in touch.