Tech and taste: 4 future movements for food processors

June 11, 2024
From sustainability efforts to full-scope client training, top industry predictions for the remainder of 2024.

With 2024 in full swing, the food and beverage industry is poised for another wave of transformation, driven by supply chain and sustainability demands. Food and beverage processors must not only meet industry expectations but also commit to excellence through partnerships and innovations. This article outlines the key trends that food processing companies should consider for the remainder of 2024.

Sustainability: Optimizing operations and innovations

Sustainability efforts in the food processing industry start with optimization. Customers increasingly demand that companies optimize their operations to be more sustainable and responsible in their use of resources. Shifting efforts to be Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG)-focused helps processers maximize yield and improve efficiency while minimizing waste and reducing their impact on the environment. 

For instance, in fruit and vegetable processing, the goal is to ensure the highest possible yield and quality products with minimal waste. JBT’s citrus processing technology, for example, maximizes yield, delivers quality and offers by-product recovery solutions through a circular economy. The by-product recovery process helps in recovering important ingredients such as essential oils and pulp, used in various segments like carbonated beverages, juice drinks, soaps and perfumes. The remaining peel by-products are used for cattle feed and other purposes, ensuring no part of the orange goes to waste.

Achieving high quality with less waste can be further advanced through newer technologies such as JBT’s Avure High-Pressure Processing (HPP). HPP maintains the freshness and natural flavors of juices, meat, fruits and vegetables by using pressurized cold water and minimizing product texture and taste variations that are caused by heat, irradiation or chemicals in other process techniques. This technology is highly sought after by consumers for its freshness, flavor, nutrition and safety.

Additionally, moving away from batch-type processes to continuous processes can provide more control and help companies achieve sustainability goals by reducing steam and water usage. Continuous sterilization ensures higher production volumes, reduced process times while consuming less energy compared to start-and-stop batch methods.

Energy savings, water reduction and utilities reduction are also key components of sustainable operations. Implementing energy-efficient technologies and practices, minimizing water usage and streamlining operations to reduce utility consumption not only lower costs but also lessen the environmental impact.

Food safety: Advanced sterilization and non-thermal technologies

Food safety is paramount, and processors need to ensure that their products not only meet, but exceed, minimum public health standards. Enhanced sterilization methods and awareness campaigns assure customers that their food is safe. Advanced sterilization technologies, such as Ohmic processing and non-thermal methods such as HPP, play a critical role in achieving this goal.

By using techniques that preserve the integrity and nutritional value of food, companies can offer products that are not only safe but also of high quality. Continuous sterilization processes provide precise control, ensuring consistent safety and quality while reducing energy consumption and waste.

In addition to these technologies, JBT offers advanced worldwide process authority and validation services in support of in-container sterilization, in-flow sterilization and filling technologies. These services include compliance and regulatory audits, thermal process design, validation of low-acid aseptic filler technologies and complete FDA-product filing support. JBT’s team of experienced scientists and laboratories can microbiologically validate a wide array of filler packaging material sterilization technologies. This comprehensive approach enables unparalleled optimization of thermal process design, including the accurate modeling of aseptic low-acid particulate product thermal processes required for FDA filing.

Integrating these advanced sterilization methods and validation services, companies can ensure that their products meet the highest safety standards and regulatory requirements.

Automation and technology adoption

Automation and digitalization play crucial roles in modern food processing by increasing efficiency, reducing human error and ensuring safety. Integrating advanced automation solutions can streamline operations and improve productivity across the board.

For example, digital platforms leveraging artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning and predictive analytics can optimize machine performance and maintenance schedules. JBT’s OmniBlu platform, for example, offers such capabilities, providing best-in-class service, parts availability and machine optimization.

Efficiency and safety are also enhanced by thermal process control systems like JBT’s LOG-TEC Momentum.  Accepted by both the FDA and the USDA, LOG-TEC self-tests all sensors prior to start up, controls the thermal process, and monitors and records all inputs and outputs during the cycle.  Any process deviations are automatically identified and shown to the operator. In most applications, time and temperature deviations can be automatically corrected.  JBT’s approach to control assures regulatory compliance, requires minimal operator interaction, enhances product quality and consistency, and minimizes waste

Packaging line automation solutions, such as those offered by JBT’s AutoCoding Systems, control printers, barcode scanners and other equipment to ensure that all coded information, packaging film and labels are correct. This automation ensures that products are correctly packed and labeled, reducing the risk of errors and enhancing overall safety.

Training and development: Building expertise and efficiency

High employee turnover can pose challenges to producing high-quality food, making training and retraining of the workforce essential. JBT offers comprehensive training programs to develop competencies for various roles. The JBT Thermal Processing Academy and Better Process Control School (BPCS) provide training on various aspects of thermal processing to ensure compliance with FDA regulations.

JBT’s offers tailored training to help businesses grow, whether introducing new equipment or finding innovative solutions to improve productivity. Offering resources that support, educate and develop industry experts is a trend that will continue to thrive. JBT’s Research & Technology Centers and Technical Schools provide access to lab services, training and technical support, helping customers achieve their sustainability goals.

As we look ahead, the food and beverage industry is set to make technological advancements with a heightened focus on food safety and sustainability. Companies must uphold excellence through their partnerships and diverse innovations. By embracing these trends — sustainability, optimizing operations, focusing on food safety and investing in automation and training — processors and companies alike can thrive in this dynamic landscape, working together towards a safer, more sustainable future.

Narsi Reddy Ponagandla, is the Research & Technology Center Manager at JBT Corporation.

Sponsored Recommendations

2024 Manufacturing Trends — Unpacking AI, Workforce, and Cybersecurity

The world of manufacturing is changing, and Generative AI is one of the many change agents. The 2024 State of Smart Manufacturing Report takes a deep dive into how Generative ...

The Journey to Operational Excellence: Quality-Driven Compliance

Learn firsthand from top industry analysts how to navigate regulatory compliance (i.e. FSMA) & food safety audits in manufacturing.

Cold Chain Tracking with FactoryTalk PharmaSuite

Manage thermo-sensitive materials, optimize production & reduce waste

State of Smart Manufacturing Report Series

The world of manufacturing is changing, and Generative AI is one of the many change agents. The 2024 State of Smart Manufacturing Report takes a deep dive into how Generative ...