Facility Engineering, Design & Construction to Support Food Processing
Food processors are leaving no stone unturned during the engineering and design phase to ensure their facilities can meet consumer demands for product safety and quality.
2015 Food Processing
Optimism Abounds in Food and Beverage Manufacturing
Despite industry competition being extremely high, companies are generally feeling optimistic right now. In fact, 2015 is slated to be a big year for the industry. The WeiserMazars LLP Food & Beverage Industry Study, performed in conjunction with The Food Institute, AFI, and Stagnito Media, cited a staggering 92 percent of food and beverage companies anticipate increased sales this year, with an expected 13 percent increase in employment. As the industry continues to grow and its economic impact becomes even greater, companies are also confident in forecasting industry expansion. So much so that 43 percent believe that the sector will expand in the year ahead, and 42 percent will be considering additional financing for equipment.
Domestic manufacturers are not the only ones eager to jump on growing market opportunities — the U.S. market is also being targeted by private equity and international companies as a prime investment opportunity.
Consumer Demands Are Driving More Innovative Facilities
It’s common knowledge that the public is growing increasingly concerned about their health and the safety of their food. One very obvious example of this is the consumer’s pursuit of organic, fresh foods. According to the Organic Trade Association, organic food sales have more than tripled over the last decade and increased 11 percent last year alone, hitting $35.9 billion.
It’s common knowledge that the public is growing increasingly concerned about their health and the safety of their food. One very obvious example of this is the consumer’s pursuit of organic, fresh foods. According to the Organic Trade Association,4 organic food sales have more than tripled over the last decade and increased 11 percent last year alone, hitting $35.9 billion. At Gray Construction, our customers are very attuned to this trend and are leaving no stone unturned during the engineering and design phase to ensure that their facilities will be built to amply address these concerns. They are proud of their increased responsibility for overall food safety and quality and making it a priority from project onset to completion.
Chelten House Products, Inc., for example, which is a leading provider of salad dressings, pasta sauces, salsa, and other condiments, really began to notice a growth surge when they moved to private-label organic and all natural foods. The family business began in Bridgeport, N.J., but due to its growth, partnered with Gray to design and build a second food processing facility in Las Vegas, Nev.
Similarly, our customers are emphasizing an increasing interest in knowing where food comes from. In other words, consumers want to know whether food is local, how it’s been processed, and how to properly address traceability, which means these areas are becoming driving factors in how new food manufacturing facilities are being engineered, designed, and built. Incidentally, this trend is growing far beyond just human foods — it’s taking over the pet food industry as well.
For instance, our customer Champion Petfoods has built an enormous customer base largely on its commitment to making pet food from biologically appropriate, fresh, regional ingredients that are never outsourced, also known as the company’s BAFRINO mandate. This has obviously been a critical motivator during the engineering, design, and construction of Champion’s first U.S.-based kitchen in Auburn, Ky., which will be operational in early 2016. The controls were designed specifically to track all ingredients for each recipe as they come through the supply chain, and the data collection system was developed to enhance consumer awareness of the product’s traceability. The kitchen will also meet human food safety standards, fully adhering to USDA and FDA regulations.
Likewise, Clemens Food Group recently called on Gray for design-build services of its 550,000-square-foot fresh pork processing facility in Coldwater, Mich. Once operational, the facility will process 10,000 hogs per day, all of which will be sourced through several regional family farms. As a leader in the pork industry in animal well-being initiatives, it was paramount that the Clemens facility be designed to meet the highest standard of animal care during all phases of processing.
Technology and the innovation of select equipment will play a vital role in the production process. The use of robotics and computer-controlled processing equipment will allow Clemens to produce a premium quality, consistent product with improved efficiencies resulting in a positive impact on worker safety. Specific systems are being integrated to offer a holistic approach to the entire supply chain. The building itself is a primary component of the supply chain, as all systems have been designed specifically to deliver wholesome food products to the consumer while maintaining control of every process from farm to fork.
As one of several food safety process controls, highly efficient chilling procedures will also be implemented to assure that the product is safe, and that flavor and nutritional aspects are preserved. Once chilled, the pork is cut into products using sophisticated equipment in large processing areas, which are designed to maintain strict cleanliness of the entire processing environment. The facility is scheduled to begin operations in fall 2017.
Food and Beverage Beyond 2015
Though 2015 is quickly drawing to a close, we expect many of the same trends we’ve seen emerge this year will carry over into the New Year as well. With the average consumer being more educated than ever before about health and food safety benefits, high-quality products seem like less of a commodity and more of an expectation. The challenge for food processors is to find an engineering solution that brings together industry experts, vendors, designers, and contractors, who together can reach their stringent budget, quality, and production demands.
After completing more than 172 food and beverage projects, Gray Construction is well equipped to meet this challenge through a collaborative, fully integrated design-build approach. As food manufacturers continue to adapt to the evolution of consumer needs, we also must be proactive in tailoring our approach to address the constantly changing requirements of the consumer to best serve our customers.
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