SICK’s Fill Level Monitoring keeps packaging machines topped up

A digital service that gives instant visibility to filling levels in packaging machinery has been developed by SICK in collaboration with industry end-users. SICK Filling Level Monitoring avoids machine stoppages by giving real-time data to operators via smartwatch or phone, so that levels of carton blanks, adhesive or film wraps, for example, stay topped up. Instead of having to check each magazine or film roll level in person, machine operators monitor fill levels on their watch or phone and are alerted by SICK’s Filling Level Monitoring system before levels become critical. Machine downtime is avoided and staff walking routes can be planned efficiently to ensure optimum production uptime.   Industry Collaboration The SICK Filling Level Monitoring digital service can be used with any SICK smart level sensors. Its first applications have been developed with packaging manufacturers and machine builders using SICK DT-50 laser distance sensors to output level measurements from carton magazines and film rolls. The measurements are routed to a SICK SIM1012 edge gateway, which aggregates and forwards encrypted data via SICK’s LiveConnect digital interface, so that it can be easily accessed, managed, and processed online. The SICK Filling Level Monitoring cloud-based dashboard provides easy-to-interpret graphical information about the real-time status of machines from any internet-enabled device. Automatic push notifications on the fill levels can be set up for smart devices to alert with an acoustic signal and vibration. Meanwhile, production managers can monitor the fill levels of all machines across a packaging line, shift or entire production facility. Analysis of historic trends can be used to optimise production processes.   Unexpected Benefits Neil Sandhu, SICK’s UK Product Manager for imaging, measurement and ranging, said: “SICK worked closely with leading packaging end-users and machine builders in Europe to develop a cost-effective and easy-to-implement system. “By using the smart watch alerts, our customers found that fewer operators were needed to keep cartoning machines replenished, so staff could be deployed more efficiently to other duties. What’s more, the system brought unexpected benefits to overall production control. For example, the loads on packaging machinery lines could be monitored to identify over- or under- capacity.” While initially developed for cardboard and film packaging materials, Filling Level Monitoring can also be adapted for liquids including adhesives, or granular raw materials. It is also possible to add customised services and analyses tailored to particular machinery or processes. Up to six SICK sensors can be monitored by each SICK SIM1012 gateway, and more sensors, including third-party devices, may be added by connecting over OPC-UA.  Sensors are also continuously monitored by the system in case one should go offline or need a replacement. The solution can be extended to meet the needs of customers on request, e.g. to customise and display additional data on the dashboard.  Integration to third party ERP and MES software systems is also possible.   Digitilisation Neil Sandhu concludes: “Cloud-based services such as Filling Level Monitoring illustrate how making reliable sensor data transparent enables digitalised machine operation as part of Industry 4.0. By combining smart sensors with intelligent software, critical processes can be visualised in real time and adapted for the needs of users. “Early adopters are noticing new and unexpected production trends when they view and interpret their historical production data in easy-to-read graphical displays. As a result, they have been able to optimise production processes and deploy staff to achieve efficiencies never even expected.”

Speciality & Fine Food Fair renews partnership with Mixology Group for fourth year

Speciality & Fine Food Fair, taking place on 5-6 September at Olympia London, has announced that it will continue its partnership with drink consultancy Mixology Group for the 2022 event. Each year the Fair showcases over 600 innovative speciality food & drink products from the UK and around the world to its audience of retailers, wholesalers, farm shop and deli owners and more. Mixology Group will once again take over the Inspiration Bar in the Fair’s Drinks Cabinet section, leading drinks-focussed thought leadership sessions and providing advice and guidance for visitors eager to explore the latest innovations in alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks from companies exhibiting at the Fair. Zoe Cunliffe, Director at Mixology Group commented: “We can’t wait to head back to Speciality & Fine Food Fair this September to help the Fair’s food & drink buyers learn about the very latest trends and products in the drink sector.” “There are a huge number of new products on the market and our session at the Fair will give retailers and wholesalers the tools to make the most out of these exciting and creative drinks offerings.” Nicola Woods, Speciality & Fine Food Fair Event Manager, added: “We’re delighted to be continuing our partnership with Mixology Group for 2022. The team are incredibly knowledgeable about the drinks sector and hugely insightful about promoting, mixing and maximising profit from quality drinks products. We can’t wait to check out their sessions at this year’s Fair.”

Loma’s TRACS reporting software solution offers food manufacturers increased traceability

With food traceability playing a critical role in the global market and continuing to grow in complexity, the global leader in inspection technologies for food quality and safety, Loma Systems, is making food manufacturers and processors aware of the importance of having robust traceability systems in place. Loma’s TRACS (Trending-Reporting-Analysis-Capture-Software), is a graphical reporting software tool for efficiently monitoring production to easily identify performance issues. As COVID-19 and the implications of Brexit has made sourcing more complex, the need for full traceability has intensified as manufacturers are forced to purchase ingredients from new and multiple suppliers. Furthermore, changes to household food behaviour has seen consumers being increasingly more cautious and discerning about the food they eat and its origin. The net result is that food retailers are demanding food manufacturers meet their codes of practice (COP) obligations by inspecting and logging all production activity to ensure a traceable audit trail. Integrated within Loma’s IQ4 metal detectors, X5 Series X-ray systems, CW3 Checkweigher or Combination systems, TRACS communicates over a network, automatically capturing data from multiple machines, at various sites if needed. The software displays live and historical batch data for all production runs, providing trend analysis of key measurements for each batch, such as give away, metal count or downtime for improved efficiency. Live dashboard information is easily accessed via a web browser, providing a quick and easy overview of machine status in real-time, enabling performance issues to be identified, so that appropriate action can be taken promptly. Maintaining integrity of the captured data, information can be exported for off-line analysis or integration into other systems. Manufacturers and processors will recognise that with a traceability software solution such as TRACS in place, their production lines will be extremely well protected against a product recall or withdrawal. However, should legal proceedings occur due to a contamination, having TRACS to help track, securely record and analyse data, will positively influence a more favourable legal outcome, as it will prove that the correct inspection processes were in place. It also mitigates the size of the recall as traceability with TRACS will quickly inform where specifically the product issue was, thereby helping to reduce the product quantity recalled.

Standard Meat Company gobbles up Syracuse Sausage

Standard Meat Company, a North Texas-based meat company, has acquired Syracuse Sausage of Ponder, Texas. Standard Meat Company is owned by the Rosenthal family. The fourth generation of Rosenthals — the brother and sister team of Ben Rosenthal and Ashli Rosenthal Blumenfeld — currently leads the company, with Ben as CEO and co-president, and Ashli as co-president. Syracuse Sausage has also been a family business, founded by Joe Musacchio and operated for the past decade by his brothers, Bobby and Anthony Musacchio. The Rosenthal family originally partnered with Syracuse Sausage almost a decade ago when Bobby and Anthony took over the family business with plans to increase production and reach the widest possible audience. Today, Syracuse Sausage serves national restaurant chains, major grocery stores, meal kit companies and other food-service firms — and will continue to do so as part of Standard Meat. “Our partnership has been incredible,” Ben Rosenthal said. “We are honored to continue to carry out their 40-year legacy as we integrate the business into Standard Meat, ensuring both companies continue their focus as one united organization.” Tapped to lead the new division is food industry veteran Chris Horan, who began his food career in 1986 as a sales representative for Campbell’s Soup Company in Florida. Since then, Horan has worked for numerous food industry leaders, including HJ Heinz, Henri’s Foods, CTI Foods and Classic Foods.

Brown‑Forman and Coca-Cola to debut Jack Daniel’s and Coca-Cola ready-to-drink cocktail

Brown‑Forman Corporation and The Coca-Cola Company have established a global relationship to debut the iconic Jack & Coke cocktail as a branded, ready-to-drink (RTD) pre-mixed cocktail option. Jack Daniel’s & Coca-Cola RTD, inspired by the classic bar cocktail, will be made with Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Whiskey and Coca-Cola. The beverage will be available in markets around the world, with initial launch planned for Mexico in late 2022. “This relationship brings together two classic American icons to deliver consumers a taste experience they love in a way that is consistent, convenient, and portable,” said Lawson Whiting, CEO and president of Brown‑Forman Corporation, the American-owned spirit and wine company. “Brown‑Forman has been a leader in the ready-to-drink category since we launched our first Jack Daniel’s RTD more than 30 years ago. Coca-Cola perfectly complements Jack Daniel’s and our existing RTD offerings, enabling us to accelerate expansion and continue to grow our business around the world.” “We keep consumers at the center of everything we do as we continue to develop our portfolio as a total beverage company, and that includes new products with our iconic Coca-Cola brand,” said James Quincey, chairman and CEO of The Coca-Cola Company. “We are excited about our new relationship with Brown‑Forman and look forward to the introduction of Jack Daniel’s & Coca-Cola.”

Danone’s Greek style yogurt brand, Light* and Free launches new £1m Advertising Campaign

Driven by consumer insight that shows how attitudes to dieting have evolved, Danone’s Greek style yogurt brand, Light* and Free, today launches a new £1m 360⁰ brand campaign ‘Light*, Never Less.’ The campaign received overwhelmingly positive results in consumer testing being ranked #1 yogurt ad in the UK. The campaign highlights how taste is the No.1 driver when choosing a yogurt by celebrating the Light* and Free range of deliciously creamy yoghurts which are full of flavour, thick and creamy and contain no added sugar. Light* and Free believes that despite containing 0% fat and 0% added sugar, you should never compromise on taste and texture. Tom Hickton, Category Director EDP Marketing for Danone UK&I said: “The way consumers think about their diet has evolved.  They are taking a more holistic and positive approach to health as a preference to restrictive dieting. As a result of that, the new Light & Free campaign is very much focused on tackling the key barriers of the diet category around poor taste and watery texture, showcasing that yes, a product can be 0% fat and 0% added sugar but nonetheless deliciously tasty. That is why we have evolved the full Light* and Free brand positioning to focus on the delicious taste and texture of our products, making it easy for consumers to choose a healthy snack, without compromising on enjoyment.” Light & Free Greek style yogurts are available in a range of flavours. From fruity everyday favourites to delicious dessert-inspired flavours as well as high protein yogurts which contain 14g of protein per pot. They are all perfect to enjoy for breakfast or as a tasty nutritious snack and the majority of pots are recyclable.

The Absolut Company partners with Blue Ocean Closures to develop fibre-based bottle cap

The Absolut Company, part of Pernod Ricard, is working with Blue Ocean Closures (BOC), a start-up based in Sweden, to develop an innovative natural fibre-based closure cap for Absolut Vodka’s iconic bottle. Made from bio-based materials, the cap’s pioneering design reduces the amount of plastic used in packaging by combining a body made of sustainably sourced FSC fibre material with a thin top-seal barrier layer, making it recyclable as paper and ocean biodegradable. Together, BOC and The Absolut Company will develop the cap for use on current glass bottles, as an addition to existing cap solutions as well as a possibility for future packaging innovations. The partnership will see several iterations of the cap through prototyping and testing stages in 2022, with plans to share it commercially in 2023. This is part of a wider ambition from The Absolut Company and Pernod Ricard to create a fully circular business, working with suppliers and partners to ensure that 100% of its packaging is reusable, recyclable or compostable by 2025. Speaking on the partnership, Eric Näf, director of Packaging Development at The Absolut Company, said: “We know that collaboration across the whole value chain sits at the heart of long-term progress and true environmental, economic, and social impact. As part of our circular way of thinking, we are delighted to be working with BOC to continue designing out single-use materials and using packaging innovation for the benefit of the planet.” Lars Sandberg, CEO of Blue Ocean Closures, said: “We are proud to partner with Absolut Vodka to bring an alternative cap solution to the market. My first job was actually on the Absolut Vodka factory floor, so I’ve seen how quality is a key focus across every part of the production process.” Ulrika Evermark, community manager at Blue Ocean Closures, said: “We are excited to welcome Absolut Vodka to join us in the important development of our caps, alongside industry leaders such as ALPLA and Glatfelter.”

Cathedral City becomes the first cheese brand to introduce side opening, resealable packs

Cathedral City, the Nation’s Favourite cheese from Saputo Dairy UK, has unveiled new side opening packaging, featuring the brand’s signature resealable, zip lock. The brand is the first in the UK to introduce side opening block cheese packaging which is resealable. Launching across the entire Cathedral City block range, the new packs will begin rolling out in stores from 13th June and will be available in all major retailers. Convenience is at the heart of the re-design, giving consumers the ability to seamlessly slide the cheese in and out of the pack without touching the bare cheese block, so they can slice or grate it straight from the packet. To help reduce food waste, the updated packaging keeps the cheese fresher for longer as the shorter zip makes resealing it even easier. It also reduces the plastic content by 6%, saving 40 tonnes of plastic a year. In consumer trials, over 60% of users preferred the new side opening format. 73% of consumers also agreed the zip lock would keep their cheddar fresher for longer and would be easy to open and reclose multiple times. Neil Stewart, Cathedral City Marketing Controller at Saputo Dairy UK, says, “Research has told us that consumers are looking for ease and convenience when using their block of cheese. Hygienic handling and the ability to keep the cheese as fresh as possible were also key considerations and our new side opening, resealable packs achieve all of those things. The fact we are the first brand on the market to introduce such a pack demonstrates the commitment, passion, and expertise that we at Cathedral City put into everything we do. “We will always listen to our customers and their feedback and, as such, the packaging will continue to feature the press to close ability that not only keeps our cheese fresh and helps to reduce food waste, but also eliminates the need for secondary plastic to reseal the cheese once opened.” The new packaging, which follows the brand’s recently relaunched design, will be replacing Cathedral City’s current top opening packs. Last month Saputo Dairy UK revealed a new brand identity for Cathedral City featuring a modern, redesigned city scene around its iconic cathedral and new, vibrant SKU-specific colourways to complement its signature burgundy.  

Poultry products provider, Foster Farms, acquired by Atlas Holdings

Atlas Holdings has acquired Foster Farms, a family-owned provider of fresh, frozen, and prepared poultry products headquartered in Livingston, California from entities associated with the Foster Family. With products available nationwide, Foster Farms employs approximately 10,000 skilled team members and operates major processing facilities in CaliforniaWashingtonLouisianaOregon, and Alabama. The company, which generates revenues of approximately $3 billion annually, will continue to operate under the Foster Farms name. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed. Atlas also announced that longtime poultry industry leader Donnie Smith, former Chief Executive Officer of Tyson Foods, has been named Foster Farms’ new Chief Executive Officer and chairman of the Board. Smith spent 36 years with Tyson in roles spanning all business functions. He was named CEO in 2009, a role he held until his retirement in 2016. Under his leadership, Tyson saw record growth, entered new markets and expanded its product offerings, staying true to Tyson’s heritage while charting its path forward as one of the world’s largest food companies. “I love the poultry industry and am proud that Atlas has asked me to become the CEO of Foster Farms,” said Donnie Smith. “I’ve long been an admirer of the Foster Family and the business they’ve built over the past eight decades. In this new era, we will maintain and further that legacy, rooted in animal welfare, superior product quality, customer service and community engagement.” “We are thrilled to welcome Foster Farms to the Atlas Family of great global businesses,” said Atlas partners Sam Astor, Ed Fletcher, and Mike Sher. “We have a long history of partnering with proud family-owned companies to honor their past while driving additional operational, environmental, and financial success for the next generation. Working closely with Donnie Smith, the Leadership Team, and our dedicated team members, that is precisely what we intend to do at Foster Farms.”

Solina acquires Zafron Foods

Solina has acquired Zafron Foods from the Kenny family. UK-based Zafron Foods is a second generation family business specialising in the manufacture of mayonnaise, sauces, condiments, dressings, chutneys and deli fillers. Working out of two manufacturing sites with independent food safety accreditation from BRC, the company has become a leading provider of sauces to mid-sized food service chains. Zafron Foods made its name through well-recognized brands such as Kenny’s, Zafron and Kromberg and now has a growing presence in the custom-made sauce sector. Growth across all areas of the business has turned Zafron Foods into a 65-employee company with net sales of £23 million (€28 million). Making the business part of Solina’s sauce platform will unlock further growth opportunities and enhance its ability to foresee and address the evolving needs of customers. The acquisition is part of Solina’s strategy to develop its product capabilities and portfolio, across dry seasonings, coating systems and custom-sauces, and a onestop-shop approach. The strategy resulted in the recent launch of a sauce platform and the April 2022 acquisition of Sauces & Créations, a French producer of made-to-measure sauces. Solina’s expansion reflects the high growth of liquid solutions and sauces and the emergence of new channels for custom sauces. “Quick Service Restaurants, Dark Kitchens and Home Meal Replacement are driving growth in the sauce sector, particularly in the highly developed UK Food Service market,” Anthony Francheterre, CEO of Solina, said. “Yet, there remains a need for custom-sauce capacity and capabilities. Solina, with our culinary heritage, and Zafron Foods, with its complementary capabilities and channels, will address that unmet need while advancing our shared mission to make food matter for people and the planet.” Jack Kenny, who will stay as a Managing Director of Zafron Foods with his management team after the deal, added: “We see Solina as the ideal partner to enable the next chapter in our growth story. “With our access to Tier 1 customers in the UK as well as combining our sauces capabilities with Essential Cuisine sales network, we can create opportunities for Solina while benefiting from procurement synergies, cross-fertilization with other liquid solutions sites and their expertise in custom culinary solutions. We share Solina’s entrepreneurial values and look forward to our collaboration.”