- 30 years experience in grain-based food manufacturing.
- Has worked for Kellogg, Quaker Oats, Wenger Mfg. and consulted with food manufacturers worldwide.
- Offers broad spectrum of knowledge and experience in the production of grain-based foods as well as intricacies of the equipment involved in processing these foods.
- All 7 Best Practices
- Pre-Call Discovery Process
- One-on-One Call with Expert
- Session Summary Report
- Post-Session Engagement
Grain-Based Food Processing
- Raw materials as sourced aren’t consistently optimal for meeting finished product standards.
The quality of source grains used to produce the final consumer-ready product can vary widely. Growing conditions, harvest location, inputs applied, seed varieties and types, harvest timing and post-harvest handling are all factors that can and do affect processability and the ultimate quality and consumability of grains-based foods.
A growing emphasis on raw material cost control, combined with a grains market that can be opaque when it comes to exact source, variety, overall quality and other particulars, elevates the risk that processors may get sub-optimal product. Raw grains that don’t meet exacting process and formulation specifications and requirements can prove costly in terms of consumer acceptability, process efficiency and yield.
- Processing line equipment isn’t adequately maintained or properly operated.
Machinery comprising the assembly line used to convert raw commodities to consumable food products is highly complex. To perform consistently and reliably, the line and its components must be precisely configured and adapted to meet final product specifications, and must stay within established parameters. It also must be properly and consistently maintained and serviced to manufacturer and process specifications.
Far too often, however, high-volume, fast-paced processing operations come up short in both respects. Over time, equipment settings and calibrations can drift from original configurations, and result in a slow chipping away of efficiency and end product quality. That slide in operational integrity and efficiency can be exacerbated by lax routine maintenance and observation, which can easily take root amidst the constant pressure to keep processing lines humming.
Expensive, high-tech equipment not being operated in accordance with exacting end product specifications, or left to slowly degrade from a lack of proper oversight, maintenance and, as needed, troubleshooting, presents considerable and ultimately avoidable risks for processors.
- Corners are cut on investments in processing lines adequate to the task.
The growing availability of used and rebuilt processing lines and components provides cost-conscious and value-minded processors with viable options to costly, but highly-capable new equipment.
But an abundance of choice in the market for processing equipment means processors must be extra vigilant in fully understanding their needs and carefully evaluating options. Not all bargains prove to be values, and that’s especially true if processors aren’t mindful to invest in exactly what they need to get the job done, no more and certainly no less – today and into the future.
Lured by price, far too many processors today are making choices that quickly prove to be short-sighted and ill-conceived. Failing to adequately assess their needs and the full capabilities of prospective capital equipment, many processors end up saddling themselves with processing lines that are bargain priced, but gold-plated in the sense of long-term, unrecoverable costs.
- Processors constantly struggle to maintain required tenacity on food safety.
Food-borne illness incidents remain rare, and the industry’s track record continues to improve. But food processors face an ongoing struggle to maintain that performance.
With the growing ability to detect the presence of ever more minute quantities of residues, toxins and pathogens in a sample, processors have an ever higher bar to clear in ensuring a baseline of safety. Raw materials entering food plants are originating from an ever widening geographic and supplier circle, complicating the ability to monitor, verify, trace and track and elevating the sheer potential for contamination. The ongoing challenge is to carefully vet the broad spectrum of product suppliers and service providers, rigorously monitor, test and sample incoming product and establish ironclad processes for arresting potentially deadly problems in their tracks.
- Rising quality and consistency demands pose new management challenges.
As consumer demand for predictable, repeatable eating experiences grows, the pressure is growing on processors to pay ever more attention to quality assurance, quality control and continuous improvement controls.
Even as they grow larger and more capable, processors face the relentless challenge to deliver the consistency that consumers demand. The problem for a growing number of processors presents itself as the struggle to not only effectively monitor quality, but to be able to pinpoint, identify, trace back and correct the ultimate source of finished-product quality issues.
But the trend toward more automation in processing plants, combined with steady cutbacks in plant staff and the growing complexity of product sourcing and processing lines, is making the QA and QC task an ever more formidable one.