The pet food industry is evolving as a result of a shift in consumer demands, with pet owners paying more attention than ever to quality and ingredients. They are willing to pay more to ensure their pet’s good health and tend to remain loyal to the pet food brand that delivers a consistently high-quality product over time. If they find foreign material or cross-contamination in their bag of kibble, they won’t always complain; they will switch to another brand and are very unlikely to come back. The cost in lost customers of a seemingly minor irregularity can be very high. This means that for pet food manufacturers consistency is crucial: to remain competitive in today’s market, they must ensure their product is clean, safe and exactly what it claims to be – every single time.
Foreign materials and cross-contamination are key challenges for pet food manufacturers. Animal by-products used for pet food such as dry meat, bone meal and ground frozen meat are collected from slaughterhouses and can contain a wide variety of foreign materials. Similarly, biscuits residue, which is an ingredient for dry kibble, can contain plastic or cardboard from wrappers and boxes. All these need to be accurately and consistently removed. Cross-contamination of product types, or Stock Keeping Units, can occur when dry kibble storage silos are not completely emptied before refilling. TOMRA can help manufacturers address these issues successfully with its optical sorting solutions specifically tailored for the pet food industry.
Lars Povlsen, TOMRA Food´s Sales Manager Pet Food stated: “We love our pets and we have become very demanding when it comes to the quality and product safety of the food we give them. We know that claims and product recalls in this industry are very often related to the presence of foreign objects or cross-contamination. By tackling both issues, our optical sorting machines can help pet food manufacturers protect their brand and safeguard their business by giving their customers what they want: the assurance of high quality in a clean, safe product. What’s more, our sorters can handle with ease the high throughputs of the pet food processing industry and can run with total consistency 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. This means enhancing quality without creating bottlenecks in the process. With our technology, manufacturers can really raise the bar on pet food quality.”
TOMRA has brought to the pet food industry its industry-leading technologies designed to ensure the purity of food for human consumption. It has tailored sorting solutions that address the specific challenges of creating pet food from frozen ground meat, and meat, bone and feather meal. The optical sensors in its sorters identify foreign material or cross-contamination based on colour, structure or composition with extreme accuracy and efficiency. The result is a high-quality, clean product and a dramatic reduction in the risk of claims and product recalls.
“One of the best investments made by the business in the last three to four years”
GA Pet Food Partners, Europe’s leading manufacturer of private label premium dry pet food, has experienced first-hand the benefits of TOMRA’s Nimbus BSI+ optical sorters: “What I liked about the TOMRA solution was the ability to inspect each individual kibble within a batch and compare that against defined and agreed quality attributes,” explains Andy Kettle, Managing Director.
The Nimbus BSI+ free-fall sorter combines the efficiency of laser detection of foreign material and TOMRA’s proprietary Biometric Signature Identification (BSI+) technology that detects biometric characteristics of objects. It is a high-capacity sorter that consistently ensures extremely accurate removal of foreign bodies from the incoming raw materials.
For GA Pet Food Partners, TOMRA’s optical sorting solution not only achieved the desired results, it also created new business opportunities: “Our partners certainly are very delighted with the technology; it has helped us to break open new markets which previously would not have been available to GA. For me it’s been one of the best investments made by the business in the last three to four years.”
“We see very, very little waste and foreign bodies in our material”
For pet food manufacturers, being able to count on receiving high-quality, clean raw materials is a clear advantage. TOMRA’s optical sorting technologies have proved equally effective in earlier stages of the supply chain, enabling suppliers to offer this guarantee.
JG Pears, a leading processor of animal by-products and food waste in the UK, produces a range of meals and fat for the pet food industry. It is a company that prides itself on the quality of its product, and the accurate removal of foreign bodies from the incoming raw materials is critical to achieving these high standards. TOMRA installed Nimbus BSI and Nimbus BSI+ sorters on its low-temperature line to optimize this part of the process. “The main thing that we wanted to concentrate on was the removal of any plastics,” explains Vicky Prussia, Customer Relations Manager. “After we’d installed TOMRA, we started to look at some of the things that the machine was taking out of our process, and some of the things that we saw were things like plastics, wood, rubber. Just having the TOMRA machines in the factory, we can see now that we are removing more of the foreign bodies.”
Craig Harrison, JG Pears Site Manager, is delighted with the sorters: “Non-conformances with our customers have reduced dramatically, and regarding the TOMRAs we see very, very little waste and foreign bodies in our material. The current customers already have seen the difference in the finished product and we’re also having lots of interest from additional customers asking and enquiring about buying our material.”