In January 2020, I started as the Editor-in-Chief of FOOD ENGINEERING’s sister publication, Refrigerated & Frozen Foods. At the time, I was looking forward to touring cold foods processing plants and learning about the industry firsthand, which in turn, would make our editorial content stronger, because I’d be writing from experience rather than second-hand information delivered via email and phone calls.
The enormous amount of attention paid to ingredients in food and beverage by processors may have some overlooking an equally important element of the F&B experience: the container in which that food or beverage is sold. Packaging today plays many roles: carrier of F&B, protector of temperature-sensitive items, barrier for potential adulteration, manifestation of a brand’s sustainability initiatives and more.
The continued growth of boutique and niche pet food brands the past few years has made for crowded competition at brick-and-mortar stores and online retailers. Gone are the days of limited choice among a handful of legacy brands, with equally limited packaging options.
When I visited Poland last November at the invite of Meat from Europe to tour some of their beef and pork plants, one observation I heard often from owners was that the money in meat today lies in case-ready products, which are consumer-friendly cuts packaged and shipped to stores in retail containers.
Within its walls is one of the most technically advanced food processing plants in the country—a greenfield project built from the ground up with automation, labor savings, sustainability and smart design throughout.
The cultivated meat industry is still in its infancy, and like many other burgeoning technologies—food or otherwise—the actual agreed-upon name for what the finished product will be called is being debated by those who make it.
Current supply chain woes have made nearly every aspect of processing an ongoing guessing game, from forecasting ingredient availability to ensuring finished foods arrive at their destinations on time. One way to help make sense of the situation is to invest in track-and-trace technology that can monitor every step of a product’s journey.
A few weeks ago, I was invited by Meat from Europe—an organization promoting European Union meat products within the EU and abroad—and the Union of Producers and Employers of Meat Industry (UPEMI) to visit Poland and two of its meat processing facilities: one dedicated to beef, the other primarily pork.