The Pet Food Industry – An Overview
The pet food industry is booming. Despite the economic downturn unleashed by the COVID-19 pandemic, the global sales of pet products reached US$125 billion as of 2020, with pet food making up three quarters of global sales.
The United States is by far the largest pet products market, estimated at US$59 billion in 2020, with pet food and treats accounting for roughly $39 billion.
In this fast-growing and rapidly changing industry, how important are hygienic and sanitary practices when manufacturing pet food?
This blog article looks at the pet food industry and explores some of the sanitation challenges facing pet food manufacturers. It also looks at how hygienic or sanitary pigging systems are being implemented by manufacturers to recover product from the pipeline of process systems and maintain maximum microbiological, hygienic, and sanitary levels of cleanliness.
Demand for Pets is Soaring
It’s no surprise that the pet food industry is soaring.
After all, pet sales and adoptions have skyrocketed during the pandemic, with families turning to pets to bring happiness into their lockdown lives. As a result, the prices of dogs, cats, and other pets has reached record levels. For instance, the average price for a French bulldog is now between £2000-£3000. Similarly, the typical price of a Cockapoo has increased to £2500.
With pet ownership increasing throughout the world, this has significantly boosted the sales of pet food and other pet supplies, according to market research firms Packaged Facts and Nielsen.
Despite the bright future for the pet food industry, sanitation challenges continue to cause headaches for pet food manufacturers.
Sanitation is Important in Pet Food Manufacture
Sanitation is a critical and a regular part of food and beverage manufacturing. It’s also critical in pet food manufacture. After all, like humans, pets are susceptible to sickness, and even death when their food is not prepared and stored in a safe and hygienic way.
With trends such as raw meat-based diets taking centre stage in the pet food industry, it’s more important than ever that food gets the same high production standards as human food.
And if you’ve seen the news in the past year, then you’ve probably seen the countless pet food recalls for many different brands. These recalls are for numerous reasons, ranging from contamination and foreign materials to packaging problems and nutritional imbalances. However, the most common reason for recalls in pet food is nearly always bacterial contamination.
Contamination is a Serious Issue in Pet Food Manufacture
Bacterial contamination in pet food is a serious issue, for canned pet food, fresh, kibble, raw and treats. Like contamination in human food, contaminated pet food can include various strains of bacteria. This includes salmonella, listeria, and other similar bacteria.
These bacteria can result in serious illness, health issues, and even death in pets. Ultimately, the pain and suffering inflicted to pets as well as the distress caused to owners, may lead to a wide range of possible consequences, including product recall, complaints, liability lawsuits and much more.
As well as being damaging to a company’s reputation and brand, these are all costly problems that can easily be avoided by simply maintaining a hygienic and sanitary processing environment.
Problem Areas in Pet Food Manufacturing Facilities
The key problem areas commonly found in pet food manufacturing facilities include the following:
- Potential for cross-contamination of raw and finished products
- Inadequate cleaning and sanitising programs
- Poor equipment design
- The build-up of product residue on processing equipment
- Air flow in the pet food manufacturing facility
- Water-related issues
Hygienic and Sanitary Design in the Pet Food Industry
Many pet food processors and manufacturers are treating pet food no differently than human food processing facilities. In this way, every aspect of their facilities, from raw material segregation and cleaning right through to conveyance, inspection, and training incorporates hygiene, sanitation, and good manufacturing processes.
In modern pet food manufacture, hygienic equipment design and a factory layout that enhances good hygiene are essential.
Not only does the hygienic design of processing equipment and process lines reduce the risks of contamination and product recalls, it also helps safeguard the quality of manufactured products. In addition, it also makes equipment safer as well as quicker and easier to clean.
Technology is playing an increasing role in safety and meeting hygiene requirements. Many pet food manufacturers are adding hygienic technologies such as pigging into their processes. Also known as liquid product recovery, hygienic and sanitary pigging is an extremely effective way to clean internal process pipelines without having to dismantle the equipment.
Pet Food Processing and Pigging Systems
Pigging delivers a wide range of benefits for pet food processing and production. It recovers nearly all residual liquid or wet product that’s left in process pipes at the end of each batch run.
So, for pet food manufacturers that pump liquids or wet products through pipes, pigging increases yields, cuts waste, and safely cleans piping systems.
Pigging uses a specialist projectile (the ‘pig’) to recover the usable product from the pipeline. The pig has a diameter slightly larger than the inside diameter of the pipe. This enables it to achieve full body contact with the pipeline wall and recover significant amounts of product. The HPS pig has an exceptionally high recovery efficiency of up to 99.5%.
What’s more, the HPS hygienic (sanitary) pig is made of FDA approved materials. In this way, it meets the needs of the hygienic or sanitary conditions critical for pet food production. As well as pet food, the HPS pig is widely used in hygienic applications such as food and beverages, cosmetics, pharmaceutical, personal care, plus many more.
Reducing Contamination and Cross-Contamination Risks by Pigging
Because HPS pigging systems have exceptionally high product recovery rates, the chances of contamination are greatly reduced.
In addition, by recovering so much product, pigging prevents product build-up while ensuring a hygienic and dry environment. In this way, pigging systems inhibit the growth of harmful bacteria and result in consistently higher product quality.
What’s more, pigging systems for pet food also reduce the risks of product cross-contamination. In many cases, the same processing line can be used for multiple pet food products with minimal mixing and dilution between products.
Although some routine cleaning of the pipe may be required after the pigging process, this requirement will be significantly less. So, the cleaning procedure will be much faster and easier. They’ll be less downtime and much less energy and resources required.
High ROI of Pigging Systems for Pet Food
From Nestle Purina, Mars Petcare, and Butchers, a wide range of pet food manufacturers and processors are already using hygienic and sanitary pigging systems. HPS has delivered many successful pigging and product recovery projects in this sector (here are some case studies on pet food pigging systems).
From design, implementation, commissioning, and aftercare, HPS high-performance pigging solutions deliver significant return on investment for pet food companies. This is through increased yields, less waste, faster changeovers, improved efficiency, increased capacity, decreased downtime, prevention of contamination, improved sustainability plus much more.
In most cases, payback from pigging and product recovery is between 6 and 12 months. However, precisely how fast payback will be varies from organisation to organisation. Get in touch with HPS pigging experts to help calculate your potential savings from a hygienic and sanitary pigging system installation.
Find Out More
Incorporating a pigging system is one of the most effective actions a pet food manufacturer can take to improve their processing and meet the demands of the pet food industry.
If you manufacture pet food and want to bring the benefits of pigging to your organisation, then please get in touch.