Trend towards ‘micro processors’ with innovative products and processing technologies

Liquid foods companies need to differentiate themselves to be more competitive

By Carlos Fernandez

- Last updated on GMT

Middle class consumers driving liquid foods sector. Picture: JBT
Middle class consumers driving liquid foods sector. Picture: JBT

Related tags Food

Carlos Fernandez, president/MD, JBT Liquid Foods, explains why middle class acquisitive power is becoming increasingly important for food and drink processors and reflects on a busy 12 months at JBT.

‘One of the most important trends happening currently in fruits and vegetables is an increase in the middle class, particularly in Asia, but also in South America and Africa.

Carlos Fernandez

This has led to a demand for higher quality products in terms of nutritional content and flavor, and a need for greater convenience. The role of packaging has led to a transformation in these markets.

If you go into a supermarket, you will find similar products packaged in different formats with different flavors. Underlying that is a need among liquid foods companies to differentiate themselves to be more competitive.

There also a big macro-level trend to reduce food waste, which is very important considering the amount of food that is thrown away from initial harvesting to processing. What we are trying to do is extend the shelf-life, while maintaining the freshness and healthiness of the products.

And then there is a trend towards an ever greater number of what we call ‘micro processors’ – that is, small companies with innovative products and processing technologies who are winning an increasing share of the market from the FMCG industry.

We at JBT help customers from multiple points of view. Our focus has always been on food safety either through our research centers or through our work in the field. We develop products that extend product shelf-life, while maintaining their nutritional value.

We develop technologies that make new kinds of products possible, whether with micro-processors or large processors looking to diversify.

With the range of equipment we have, we are looking to widen the breadth of packaging sizes we can work with and our ability to mix and fill different foodstuffs, as well as ways to optimize yields, throughput and up-time while reducing energy consumption levels, so customers can achieve cost savings and benefit the environment.

Landmark year

The last 12 months marked the first full year of life for JBT’s Liquid Foods business, which was created by bringing together two notable JBT businesses – Fruit & Juice Solutions and Preservation Solutions.

Fruit & Juice is a business where we produce equipment and complete lines for primary processing of citrus, tomatoes, and other fruits from mangoes to peaches, while Preservation focuses on in-container sterilization, filling and closing metal cans.

In 2015, we merged these two businesses together while, at the same time, making two key acquisitions.

The acquisition of Stork Food & Dairy Systems in Amsterdam brought innovative continuous helical coil sterilization technology – which complemented our existing in-flow sterilization systems – plus an ability to carry out aseptic filling of end products, whereas what we had before was bulk aseptic filling technologies. This technology can be applied not only to dairy, but to juices and many other types of beverages, whether that be yogurt or mixed tea drinks.

We found we needed a company to bring together all of our different types of equipment, and this company was called A&B Process Systems, which we bought in October 2015.

A&B, based in Stratford, Wisconsin, specializes in mixing, batching, and blending skids, CIP (Clean-In-Place) for lines of equipment, process piping, control panels, tank and vessel fabrication and installation resources for a variety of projects.

Most significantly, A&B is capable of taking JBT equipment and offering complete solutions using all of those systems. Now we are able to offer customers broader solutions, whether those are a complete line, part of a line or a single piece of equipment.

Future expansion

Food processors are increasingly looking for suppliers to provide more than just a piece of equipment, but expertise in products and applications. If they want a particular product or line, we can provide it, but we can also provide expertise in juices and dairy.

The UK and the US markets are perfect examples of the ever greater demand for blended products – juices with fruit pieces or pulp or vegetable juices with vegetable pieces.

This is where we are with Liquid Foods today with a greater scale, a presence in all the important global geographic regions, and a strong foundation in service. Our focus is to provide solutions and service to customers in the most efficient way possible, with a network of research and technology centers across almost all continents where we help processors test and develop products.

The next stage for Liquid Foods as a business will be to capitalize on these synergies and reorganize to deliver more of a regional focus, so customers have a single point of contact in each region. We will also have a globalized team in charge of product development that supports regional operations with product expertise.’


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