Exchangeable dispensing systems save time and money
Ready-to-eat salads are the trend. Manufacturers of packaging machines are aware of this and are developing new machines to enable the food industry to fill a wide variety of products quickly, hygienically and without allergens.
Couscous salad with pomegranate seeds, meat salad with fruit, or potato salad with mayonnaise: The selection of delicatessen salads in refrigerated counters is growing all the time, reflecting the changing eating habits of consumers who attach importance to trend products such as quinoa or bulgur, low calories and saving a lot of time. This has an impact not only on the food industry but also on producers of packaging machines, because more and more convenience products need to be developed that can be filled in smaller packaging units and into handy, smaller cups. Grunwald GmbH, a company based in the Allgäu region of Germany, manufactures primarily machines for prominent manufacturers of ready-made and delicatessen salads or spreads, particularly for the dairy industry. “More and more customers want salads with loose ingredients instead of mayonnaise-based salads,” explains Stephan Sacher, Sales Manager at Grunwald, in an interview at the International Meat Industry Trade Fair IFFA.
Trend: loose ingredients in salads
Loose ingredients are for example couscous, chickpeas, grated carrots or corn – in technical terms they are unpumpable or difficult to dispense. For many years, the medium-sized company has also been producing dispensing systems. Currently, there is strong demand for mobile dispensing systems for loose ingredients.
This makes it possible to fill products that are difficult to dispense and to change products quickly for delicatessen salad manufacturers. The mobile dispensing system is inserted in the dock-in station of the salad cup filling system. The big advantage is that the dock-in station can be used by several dispensing systems – for loose ingredients and for pumpable products – without conversion or time-consuming technical installations.
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For the delicatessen manufacturer this means that directly after dispensing a potato salad with mayonnaise, this system is removed and the dispensing system for loose ingredients can be docked. “The big advantage of combining a cup filling system and mobile dispensing systems is the simple changeover in just a few simple steps and a product changeover that can be carried out in less than five minutes,” explains Sacher. In this way, the other dispensing system can be cleaned while the loose ingredient dispenser is working, and there are virtually no production breaks. Cleaning breaks are reduced by up to 90 per cent. “Every minute without downtime creates value,” says Sacher. Thanks to their mobility, all dispensing systems can be cleaned outside the production area, which is also an advantage for hygienic reasons.
Sacher explains that frequent product and format changes for greater product variety in daily production with high machine availability and simple handling of the filling system are among the most important criteria cited by the food industry for investment in new filling and packaging systems.
Stefan Sacher is Sales Manager at Grunwald GmbH. He talks about packaging machines for food packaging. Many customers have 20 to 30 product changes a day. The Grunwald machine can fill up to 4,000 salad cups an hour. The machines can fill salad contents into cups made of any material, from plastic to glass, although glass will not be the material of choice for ready-made salads, according to Sacher. "People are too worried about glass splinters."
The demand for machinery and equipment for the production and packaging of food and beverages continues high, and growth is steady. According to the VDMA Food Processing and Packaging Machinery Association, there are 600 companies in Germany with a total of around 58,300 employees manufacturing food processing and packaging machinery. Production of these machines rose to 15.1 billion euros in 2018, 8 per cent more than in the previous year. With an average export share of over 80 per cent and a 21 per cent share of world trade by volume, German companies are world leaders.