Looking back, it’s clear that despite the tightening economic grip, companies were innovating and pursuing greater efficiencies and optimised product offerings in a dynamic fashion.
2012 was Anuga FoodTec year and saw over 42,000 visitors gather in Cologne to discover the latest in food and beverage processing technology.
Attendance was 25% higher than for the last show in 2009, which witnessed the first hits of the recession, and the 2012 show heralded a sense of optimism despite the prevailing struggles. Efficiency, sustainability, higher throughputs and automation characterised many of the new technologies on show.
Tetra Pak led the way in terms of new product developments, which included its new Hyperspeed Concept-based A3 filling machine that’s destined to take aseptic cartoning from filling rates of 24,000 packs per hour up to 40,000 packs per hour, which is some 75% faster than Tetra Pak’s existing technology.
“Innovation is the creation of a possible future,” said Michael Grosse, Tetra Pak’s executive vice president development and service operations at the launch of the company’s new product innovations, which ‘signal a new era in terms of cost, efficiency and environmental performance’.
Echoing these sentiments at the show was Buhler, which picked up a coveted gold FoodTec Award for its Instant Maize solution. Buhler’s technology for producing instant maize will allow African consumers to prepare and cook their staple food of corn meal in just two minutes, compared with the 40 minutes traditionally required, saving on energy and time.
Moves to reduce energy use as well as find alternative ingredients to cut the cost of formulations were witnessed throughout the industry as energy bills and commodity prices crept ever higher. And, all technology solutions providers were highlighting the merits of their systems for reducing energy consumption.
Again, at Anuga FoodTec, ExxonMobil Lubricants & Petroleum Specialties Company’s message focused on its latest research that demonstrated energy savings of up to 4.3% being possible for processors switching to its Mobil SHC Cibus 32 oils compared with conventional (mineral) reference oils. Klueber Lubrication stressed that efficiency could be increased from between 0.5% and 15% using its speciality lubricants.
During the year, SKF introduced its new Energy Monitoring Service – Pump Systems that it said could bring savings of between 5% and 20% a year, thanks to the insight it brings into the operational efficiency of pump systems. At one customer, SKF identified an energy improvement potential of 70% for one factory by monitoring only eight out of the company’s 300 pumps.
Rockwell Automation also developed a new tool with energy efficiency in mind. It enables manufacturers to use mobile devices or computers to calculate the potential savings that can be derived from the use of variable frequency drives, power pumps and fans.
From energy costs to commodity prices, which sneaked ever higher during the year, making the tweaking of formulations the norm for many. In response, ingredients suppliers fine tuned their solutions for replacing meat, egg, cocoa and dairy products.
“Arla Foods Ingredients has been supplying the bakery industry with Nutrilac egg replacers for the past 12 years. However, we have never seen demand this strong,” said John Gelley, sales director, EU bakery, Arla Foods Ingredients, who suggested that one of the effects of the new Welfare of Laying Hens Directive has been to drive egg ingredient users to find alternatives.
Among many jumping on this bandwagon throughout the year was International Dairy Ingredients with its milk-protein-based alternatives to eggs in baked goods and sauces, and Meadow Cheese with its new egg-free glaze, which is sprayed or brushed on to the baked product pre-baking to improve its appearance and finish.
In other areas, Bio Springer rolled out its new yeast-based natural flavour that can be used to create animal-free, cheese-flavoured food products. Kerry Ingredients & Flavours also innovated in the area of dairy with its Beatreme butter boosting solution for use in biscuits. Cargill Texturizing Solutions demonstrated how its Adrogel functional systems series could help optimise the value of meat trimmings, while its Adrogel SFR 201 was highlighted as a vegetable-based alternative to pork fat. And the Fraunhofer Institute for Process Engineering & Packaging has researched to create a juicy vegetarian cutlet that has the bite and consistency of a standard meat cutlet.
But ingredient innovation was, by no means, all for cost reduction. Clean label and natural remained key drivers for product development teams. Nestlé UK claimed at the beginning of the year to be the first company to have achieved the removal of all artificial ingredients from its entire confectionery range, which it did to meet growing consumer demand.
EC approval for stevia at the end of 2011 also ushered in a year of realisation of natural sweetening projects that had been waiting in the wings in anticipation of approval. Hartwall, the Finnish beverage manufacturer was one of the first to the store with the introduction of its Hartwall Jaffa Super containing 20kCal per 100ml, as well as its Hartwall Novelle Friss, each sweetened with stevia and fructose.
“We have worked with stevia for over five years now and are excited finally to have the possibility to introduce beverages to consumers,” said Hannele Alakarhu, product development manager, Hartwall.
Natural, clean label, cost reduction, stevia, salt reduction formulations coupled with added vitamins, minerals, protein, fibre and products for health and targeted nutrition to fuel product innovation and the many solutions launched throughout the year.
So, indeed, the industry may be challenged, but as in nature, many of the greatest innovations are spawned through challenge, and it’s clear from the investments being made that a lot more innovation is yet to come.
© FoodBev Media Ltd 2019