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Mixing it up – powder mixing with advanced cleaning efficiency for better operational performance

By Maxime Viau, process engineer, Tetra Pak.

A demanding time

With increasing demand for products with added health benefits such as protein, vitamins and minerals, mixing remains a key area for manufacturers across both food and beverage processing. However, such demand also means higher pressure on producers to create a wider variety of products with more complex ingredients, all while maintaining the same high standards of food safety.

The cleaning efficiency of the processing machinery responsible for creating these products has subsequently become extremely important for manufacturers. This article will explore the role that cleaning plays helping today’s producers create products that meet consumers high expectations and cater to emerging global trends such as wellness and nutrition.

The complexities of cleaning

Cleaning is closely linked to food safety, which is crucial to producer confidence and consumer wellbeing. A processing machine that is inefficient or difficult to clean is harder to maintain, thereby increasing the risk of a food safety incident that could have a variety of consequences.

With so many “nutrition added” formulas and recipes being tailored to meet consumer needs, producers are also weary of contamination between products that may be processed by the same machine but in different batches. There cannot be any residue between these specific recipes (with probiotics, for example) so producers require completely hygienic, dust tight solutions, which also take into account operator safety – which has been a key weakness of powder mixers in the past.

Ultimately, in a competitive market, producers demand lower running costs achieved by robust and reliable machines that are fast and easy to clean. These qualities can help achieve low energy consumption thanks to not requiring costly cleaning in place (CIP) or heat cleaning. Aside from planned preventive maintenance, mixers should be able to run 24/7 without maintenance stops, and designed to last for years and years.

Emerging trends

Regarding emerging trends and specific products requiring next level mixing, standout growth areas include the baby and toddler milk formula segment. It has seen a 3.6% compound annual growth rate (CAGR) forecast for 2014-2017, including an 11.2% CAGR over the same period in Australasia.

Products for babies and infants require an extremely meticulous approach, with infant cereals incorporating different probiotics and yeasts, in addition to flour mixes for enriching baby food. Elsewhere, research has shown that millennials consider protein to be one of the most important components in healthy eating. This has resulted in a surge in popularity of dairy and non-dairy beverages and snack products containing protein that aids recovery from sporting activity. 

In conclusion, producers’ need for proven processing equipment that combines the agility to create a variety of innovative products with optimum hygiene is only set to increase. Industry must therefore take an approach that caters to this and ensures peace of mind for their customers, providing machinery that can secure food safety through high operator safety and efficient cleaning.

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