Kroger expands in Ohio to implement aseptic milk line

The Kroger Co. has revealed a 35,000 square-foot expansion at Tamarack Farms Dairy to support the implementation of a state-of-the-art aseptic milk line, capable of manufacturing products such as half and half, heavy whipping cream, coffee creamers and Carbmaster milk beverage. The new line will allow the facility to support over 150 jobs. “We are so pleased to see this continued investment in Newark,” said Doug Blacksten, senior director of supply chain and manufacturing for Kroger. “Kroger is Fresh for Everyone, and that means we are committed to sourcing and manufacturing only the best and freshest products. This cutting-edge innovation at Tamarack Farms Dairy underscores that commitment, improving our ability to offer high-quality dairy products to Kroger customers.” The aseptic milk line is part of Kroger’s largescale efforts to deliver long shelf-life high protein drinks, non-dairy and dairy products through modern technology. Tamarack Farms Dairy, a 20-acre site, is the largest fluid dairy product producer in the state. The facility serves approximately 160 stores in Ohio and West Virginia and provides products for Kroger’s e-commerce channel. “We are thankful and delighted that The Kroger Company has chosen their Newark Tamarack Farms Dairy production facility as the site for their expansion project,” said Newark Mayor Jeff Hall. “Kroger has been a great partner in our community for many years providing good jobs for local employees and superior products for our consumers.”

Proseal showcases its localised support for the UK fresh produce sector

Proseal’s ability to deliver the speed and versatility required for efficient and high-quality soft fruit packing will be showcased at this year’s Fruit Focus exhibition. Helping growers meet the ever-increasing demand for soft fruit, UK manufacturer Proseal is a market leader in tray sealing machines for the fresh produce industry, providing a range of flexible, sustainable solutions that meet the particular challenges of seasonal markets. At Fruit Focus, the Proseal team will demonstrate the GT4s, a compact tray sealing model that maximises use of pack room space while still delivering fast speeds of up to 140 atmospheric packs per minute with a seven-impression tool. The GT4 incorporates several proven Proseal-developed features that help to maximise performance, reliability and efficiency. Pro-Motion increases throughput with following motion and intelligent buffering technology that enables trays to feed continuously into the sealer without stopping. This can improve speeds by up to 30%. The GT4s also can be customised to include free flow gas flush Modified Atmosphere Packaging (MAP) to further extend the shelf life of perishable products. Furthermore, as many retailers and manufacturers race to find alternative materials to plastic, Proseal tray sealing machines are capable of handling all the latest pack formats many of which are able to utilise existing tool sets in order to minimise investment. Recent introductions have included the Alexir Stackpack, a premium, craft-board punnet that provides an inline, off-the-shelf, fully printed card punnet, as well as the CKF Earthcycle Punnet – offering a complete plastic-free equivalent to a plastic punnet and a realistic, workable alternative. In addition, as the company develops new features to meet new market requirements, these can also be retrofitted to existing models already in operation. This allows fruit growers and packers to keep up-to-date with changing consumer and retailer demands without the need to invest in new equipment. This is supported by Proseal’s preventative maintenance programme, PRoCARE, available 24/7, 365 days a year, which provides both on-site and remote service and advice that helps to maximise machinery performance and uptime. Proseal will be sharing its stand with sister JBT company AutoCoding Systems (ACS), the industry leader in packaging line automation solutions. ACS’s AutoCoding coding management and packaging verification software will be showcased, as well as 4Sight, its automatic print inspection solution. ACS’s advanced software system controls and monitors the entire production and packing process to provide an automated solution to replace manual paper-based systems. This ensures full visibility and traceability of customers’ orders from initial placement through manufacture and packing to onward dispatch. The combination of Proseal’s and ACS’s technologies enables the companies to devise bespoke solutions that meet the specific requirements of individual customers and deliver enhanced quality and efficiency throughout their production and packing operations. “From the introduction of our first top seal trays to our most recent speed and efficiency enhancements and the ability to handle new pack formats, Proseal has always been at the forefront of support for the UK soft fruit industry”, says Eddie Holmes, the company’s Product Line Technical Director. “Soft fruit is a highly competitive sector and Fruit Focus provides the perfect stage to demonstrate how our tray sealing solutions can deliver multiple benefits, from materials cost control and sustainability to higher quality and efficiency.” Proseal is part of the JBT Corporation family, a leading global technology solutions provider to high-value segments of the food processing industry, committed to providing a service that surpasses customer expectations.

Sweet packaging deal delivers sustainable treats

Independent fifth generation family business, Colton Packaging, has teamed up with the creative confectioners at The Treat Kitchen to reimagine the customer experience through its packaging. The Treat Kitchen has experienced phenomenal growth since it was established in 2014. The firm specialises in sweets, chocolate and biscuit gifts created from trending flavours and prints. Its sweet treats are now being stocked in 4,500 stores across the UK and 21 countries worldwide. They approached Colton Packaging with a challenge to design a sustainable ecommerce box, robust enough to deliver heavy glass bottles through the courier network for home deliveries, whilst maintaining a wow factor in terms of style and print design. Duncan Smith, director at Colton Packaging, said: “The Treat Kitchen came to us looking for a packaging solution that would deliver an excellent customer experience in terms of branding and gift reveal, yet was solid enough to protect fragile items during transit and improve sustainability. It is the sort of challenge our in-house design team thrive on, so we couldn’t wait to get started. “We made sure we spoke to all Treat Kitchen’s key departments to feed into the design, including marketing, procurement and operations, to ensure that everyone’s needs were met during new product development and throughout the life cycle of our stock and serve solution.” Key design features of the bespoke packaging solution include 100% recyclable corrugated cardboard box, with specially designed locking tabs, removing the need for polypropylene tape to be used in the warehouse. The size, style and grade of the box is also tailored to Treat Kitchen to perfectly fit their combinations of glass bottles and other products. The most unique feature of the box is the print, which delivers wow factor to the customer when opening packages at home, yet reduces manufacturing and printing time, therefore lowering overall production costs. Treat Kitchen has been able to take advantage of this by putting a clever marketing message on this ‘inside’ panel, to enhance the customer experience and reinforce brand messaging when opening the box. For Treat Kitchen, by sending products in the redesigned box they have removed plastic from the process, while still having a secure and customer friendly package. Bubble wrap has also been removed, enabling the Treat Kitchen to source and supply their own protective filling, biodegradable peanuts, in line with its brand values. The Treat Kitchen team is already benefitting from saving money on tape, product costs and the amount of warehouse space required for storage. They have also had no reports of breakages from customers since they have launched the new box design. Santa Yorke, brand manager, The Treat Kitchen, said: “The process was quick and easy. Once the size and style of the box was agreed, we received the cutter of the box. Next, we applied the brand artwork and submitted it back to the Colton Packaging design team. The lead times were very short, and the design team were more than happy to assist with any recommendations and feedback on the design. “I’m very happy with the look and feel of our box, it brings out that special wow factor for everyone who receives it and all the Treat Kitchen team love it! I hope this box will help us to achieve more online sales and increase the number of returning customers.” The partnership plan to work together again in the future to develop boxes in additional sizes for medium and large orders.

Further controls needed to limit Campylobacter food poisoning, review finds

An expert review into the sources, spread, and control of Campylobacter has found that further interventions are needed to better limit the spread of food poisoning caused by the bacteria. The review has been led by Professor Matthew Goddard, Professor of Population and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Lincoln, UK, and is part of an Oxford Martin Restatement – a review of the natural science evidence base underlying areas of current policy concern and controversy. This is vital as the prevalence of antibiotic resistant Campylobacter is increasing in the UK and has been designated a ‘high priority’ pathogen by the WHO. The Restatement, undertaken in partnership with the Oxford Martin School at the University of Oxford and co-authors at The Universities of Oxford, Cambridge, Newcastle, Liverpool and the Royal Veterinary College, found that despite falling Campylobacter levels on chicken over the past five years, levels of illness have not changed. Around 3,500 people in Britain are hospitalised every year with campylobacteriosis – food poisoning caused by Campylobacter contamination representing the greatest number of hospitalisations of any food-borne disease in the UK and the number one cause of bacterial food poisoning. The Restatement concludes that further interventions are needed – but no single solution will provide perfect control. Other key conclusions of the restatement include that there was no clear evidence that long-term use of chlorine rinses, as practiced in the USA, lowered levels of the bacteria or food poisoning caused, and that a broader series of control measures had strong evidence for its overall effectiveness as a package. The UK’s poultry industry has successfully reduced the quantity of retail chicken testing positive for Campylobacter from 73% in 2014 to 40% in 2018. However, cases of illness have not reduced over the same period. The Restatement highlights the evidence that beef, lamb and pork are implicated as carriers of the bacteria and potential causes of food poisoning and so wider control measures may be needed. Professor Goddard said: “We cannot be sure why the UK has its peak of campylobacteriosis in May and June – it might be the warmer temperatures accelerating its growth or food-safety issues at barbecues. We do know the biggest risk is poor food hygiene, cross-contamination and undercooked meat – particularly, but not just, chicken. From reviewing evidence from around the world, we see that there is no single processing solution, type of farming, or public education intervention that can solve this.” Professor Sir Charles Godfray, Director of the Oxford Martin School, added: “Governments and the WHO have rightly identified Campylobacter as a key concern; globally it caused around 166 million cases of illness and 37,600 deaths in 2010. But it is a complex area with a difficult to navigate evidence base. What we’ve tried to do here, and what we do with all our restatements, is lay out and classify the evidence in easy-to-read, policy-neutral terms to help public health officials, food and farming bodies, and policymakers understand the issue and make their own decisions.” Professor Goddard concludes: “If people want to protect themselves from campylobacteriosis food poisoning they can focus on food hygiene. Make sure your food is cooked properly, and be careful not to contaminate cooked meat with bacteria from raw meat – especially at barbecues where food at different stages of cooking might be on the same grill rack and handwashing facilities may be further away. Cleaning our hands, keeping raw and cooked meat well apart, and not putting cooked food on plates that have held raw food is something we can all do to make a difference.”

Keurig Dr Pepper to acquire global rights to non-alcoholic brand Atypique

Keurig Dr Pepper is to acquire the global rights to the non-alcoholic, ready-to-drink cocktail brand Atypique from Station Agro-Biotech, a Quebec-based company that specializes in the manufacturing and marketing of alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages. Terms of the deal, which is expected to close in early Q4, were not disclosed. Atypique is a unique offering in the emerging and fast-growing non-alcohol cocktail segment, providing a range of ready-to-drink cocktails, such as margaritas, gin & tonic and mojitos. In Canada, non-alcoholic cocktails grew more than 30 percent in retail dollar sales during the last year, and Atypique now has a 42 percent market share of that segment, where it is distributed. The agreement includes a multi-year collaboration between the two companies to fuel accelerated growth for Atypique, leveraging Station Agro-Biotech’s R&D expertise in the category and KDP’s robust sales and distribution network. “At Keurig Dr Pepper, we strongly believe in innovation to drive growth to meet the evolving beverage needs of consumers,” said Ozan Dokmecioglu, CFO & president of international. “We are excited to add this new platform to our powerful portfolio in Canada, and the global rights to Atypique provides optionality to further expand the brand’s growth potential.” Olivier Lemire, president of Keurig Dr Pepper Canada, added: “Atypique is a great complement to our successful ready-to-drink alcohol portfolio, and we look forward to continue innovating around this brand to drive accelerated growth.” “We were looking for the best way to bring Atypique to the next level. This agreement represents an exceptional opportunity to work with a beverage industry leader, and Keurig Dr Pepper will bring market knowledge and strength to the Atypique brand,” said Jonathan Robin, president, Station Agro-Biotech. “At the same time, we are delighted to have the opportunity to keep growing and innovating within a category in full effervescence and have more time to spend doing R&D in the broader beverage space.” Étienne Boulay, cofounder of Atypique, ex-Canadian star football player, TV and radio host added: “Atypique is meant to push the limits of the ready-to-drink industry by offering outside-the-box, beyond-the-normal-standard products, and this collaboration will allow the brand to continue to do just that. I can’t wait to see where this will take Atypique.”

UK signs up to global coalition on sustainable food production

The UK has signed up to a global coalition which works to speed up the move towards more sustainable food production, Environment Secretary George Eustice has announced. He confirmed that the UK will join the Sustainable Productivity Growth Coalition (SPG) – an international group of countries, academic and research organisations and trade bodies that aims to improve agricultural productivity in an environmentally sustainable way. The SPG Coalition was launched in 2021 at the United Nations’ Food Systems Summit and members include the USA, European Union, Australia, Brazil, Canada, New Zealand and the UN Food and Agriculture Organization. It is also supported by a raft of academic institutions and trade bodies representing industries including grain, dairy and livestock from all over the world. Members of the Coalition share with each other information about best practice, lessons learned and innovative evidence-based ways to boost productivity in a sustainable way, and promote them at public events and on public platforms. Environment Secretary George Eustice said: “I am pleased to announce today that the UK will join the Sustainable Productivity Growth Coalition convened by the United States. I look forward to working with our international partners in this dialogue on innovation, science and sustainable agriculture.”

Urban farming company to establish its largest growing center to date

Infarm, the urban farming company, is establishing its third Growing Center in the US and the largest Infarm Growing Center to date. Alongside the existing vertical farming facility in Seattle and a recently announced one in Austin, Texas, the new North East Growing Center will be located in Columbia, Howard County, Maryland. The opening of this facility is a significant step in the company’s US-expansion roadmap, where Infarm plans to roll out its network of cloud-connected farming facilities with a size of over 500,000 sq ft from coast to coast. The new Growing Center in Maryland will add around 200,000 sq ft to Infarm’s US portfolio and produce up to 45 million crops per year. The Growing Center will create more than 50 jobs in Howard County. “We’re thrilled that Infarm has chosen Howard County for this expansion of its innovative, data-driven vertical farming operation,” said Maryland Governor Larry Hogan. “Maryland’s strategic location makes it an ideal site for the new Growing Center and will allow the company to bring its nutritious produce to millions of new customers on the East Coast. We are proud to welcome Infarm to Maryland’s business community and applaud its commitment to unique and sustainable farming methods.” “It is exciting to have one of the world’s largest urban farming operations locate its newest facility here in Howard County, which is a magnet for innovative businesses like Infarm,” said Howard County Executive Calvin Ball. “Our Gateway District continues to be an engine of economic growth, and Infarm’s investment brings more jobs to our community with a welcomed focus on sustainability. Infarm is revolutionizing how we grow and consume food locally and we look forward to a long partnership to advance the sustainability of our food system.” Erez Galonska, CEO and co-founder of Infarm, said: “The opening of our largest US Growing Center to date in Central Maryland MSA demonstrates Infarm’s commitment to rapidly grow a local food infrastructure in the US market for the benefit of people and the planet. Howard County is a great strategic location that will allow us to serve over 23 million consumers across the Tri-State and Mid-Atlantic areas.” “With the opening of this new Growing Center, we are now entering a region where vertical farming is already widely adopted, and green innovations are thriving. Once fully operational, our Growing Center will provide the Northeastern US with a new food production capability that minimizes climate and supply chain risk by growing more than 75 types of plants locally, sustainably, and reliably 24/7, 365 days a year,” Galonska added. More than 50% of the new Growing Center is already pre-ordered with the first harvest planned for Spring 2023. The remaining capacity will be added by early 2024.

Last call for applications for the ‘Grant Jamieson Engineering Scholarship’

The closing date for submission of applications for the inaugural PPMA BEST ‘Grant Jamieson Engineering Scholarship’ is Friday 29 July 2022. Awarded by PPMA BEST, the Grant Jamieson Engineering Scholarship is an annual grant of up to £5,000 presented to the most outstanding individual who has demonstrated a genuine interest and potential in the field of engineering to PPMA member businesses and, for whom, additional financial support will aid their pursuit of a career in engineering. The first ever recipient of the recently launched Grant Jamieson Engineering Scholarship for 2022 will be announced at PPMA TOTAL 2022, the UK’s largest processing and packaging machinery, robotics and industrial vision event, on Wednesday 28 September at the NEC Birmingham. For more information on submission and application criteria, please visit: Written applications should be sent to no later than Friday 29 July.

Global spirits company Sazerac to purchase Hazelwood Demesne, owner of Lough Gill Distillery

Hazelwood Demesne Limited, owner of the Lough Gill Distillery, on the shores of Lough Gill in County Sligo, Ireland, has been acquired by the Sazerac Company, one of the world’s largest distilled spirits companies with premium brands such as Buffalo Trace Bourbon, Paddy Irish Whiskey, Michael Collins Irish Whiskey, Pappy Van Winkle Bourbon, and Southern Comfort. The Sazerac Company, known for taking historic sites such as its Buffalo Trace Distillery in Kentucky and its Sazerac House in New Orleans and restoring them to become world class operations, will fully develop the 100+ acre site, the original demesne of Hazelwood House, to create a world-class whiskey facility and visitor attraction, making it one of the most important tourism centres in the West of Ireland. Once complete, Lough Gill Distillery hopes to welcome up to 150,000 visitors annually and will create a homeplace for Sazerac’s Irish Whiskeys, Paddy and Michael Collins. Additionally, Sazerac will significantly grow the footprint of Lough Gill Distillery through increasing the distillery’s capacity, adding warehousing capacity and expanding production and bottling lines. All current Lough Gill Distillery team members will remain with the business, and it is expected that Sazerac will increase employment after the expansion. As part of the acquisition, Sazerac will continue the development of the Athrú brand, including global distribution. Mark Brown, president and Chief Executive Officer of Sazerac, said: “With its rich history of distilling and storytelling, Ireland is an ideal homeplace for our whiskey business to flourish. In particular, the history of the Lough Gill Distillery, dating back to the 18th century, will be an integral keystone in the restoration and storytelling of this site. “We look forward to preserving the history, delighting our future visitors by the stories we share, and further expanding the growth opportunities for Paddy, Michael Collins and Athrú Whiskeys.” David Raethorne, founder of the Lough Gill Distillery, said: “This is a major announcement for Sligo and a vote of confidence in the potential for Sligo to become a major player in the booming global Irish whiskey market. The acquisition will enable Lough Gill Distillery to fully develop as a world-class visitor destination and will have significant long term economic and tourism benefits for Sligo, which, for me, was always a personal goal. “In addition, the maintenance and preservation works undertaken to date on Hazelwood House (a house of national importance) have played an essential part in saving it from dereliction. This acquisition will ensure that Hazelwood House will be enjoyed and appreciated by generations to come, another key objective of the project. “The Sazerac Company announcement is a culmination of seven years of hard work and determination by the Board of Lough Gill Distillery and the wider team, delivering on our original 2015 vision, when we acquired the site. I would like to formally acknowledge the support of Sligo County Council and its CEO Martin Lydon, which was a key driver in the decision for Sazerac to invest in Sligo.” In tandem with the acquisition, Lough Gill Distillery has also announced that former Bushmills Master Blender, Helen Mulholland, is joining the team.

Pernod Ricard to sell Tormore Scotch Whisky brand and distillery to Elixir Distillers

Pernod Ricard has signed an agreement to sell the Tormore Scotch Whisky brand and distillery to Elixir Distillers, a company co-founded by entrepreneurs Sukhinder and Rajbir Singh. The Tormore distillery is emblematic of the Speyside region, home of the Scottish malt whisky industry, with a capacity of nearly 5 million liters of alcohol per annum. A listed building, constructed in 1960, it is equally famous for the quality of its Scotch whiskies as for its architectural design. The associated brand is renowned for its single malts, including its 14 and 16 year-old editions. The agreement marks a new milestone in a strong relationship between Pernod Ricard and the Singh brothers, who co-founded whisky specialist Elixir Distillers in 2017 and created the online spirits retailer The Whisky Exchange, which was acquired by Pernod Ricard in 2021. Alexandre Ricard, chairman and CEO of Pernod Ricard, said: “Active portfolio management is an integral part of our long-term strategy. The sale of the Tormore brand and distillery follows the recent announcement of our investment behind the Aberlour and Miltonduff facilities, which will increase our Scotch production capacities by 14 million liters of alcohol per annum. “We are delighted to be handing Tormore over to Sukhinder and Rajbir, two friends and truly creative entrepreneurs and look forward to finding new ways to collaborate in the future.” Sukhinder Singh explained: “Tormore is one of the most visually stunning distilleries in Speyside. It produces a beautiful spirit and fits in perfectly with the Elixir Distillers flavour-first philosophy to bottle only the very highest quality whiskies. “We are hoping to build on the work that’s been done by Pernod Ricard to bring to life the magic of Tormore and show consumers around the world just what a hidden gem it is. We are humbled to be the new custodians of Tormore; we couldn’t have asked for a better distillery to welcome to the Elixir family alongside our new Islay distillery, Portintruan.”