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(Organic) Food: Fewer Losses through Sensory Detection

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Food & Beverage

In the future, it should be possible to monitor and assure the quality of (organic) food along the value chain more quickly and efficiently than before. To this end, new sensory detection methods are being developed that will help to reduce food losses. From harvesting to logistics and storage to processing or the way to retail, methods are to be provided with which food can be planned, distributed and further processed in the best possible way, taking into account individual quality characteristics. They are being developed in the joint project “SHIELD – Safe domestic (organic) food through sensory detection methods”, which is being funded by the Bavarian Research Foundation with €1.2 million. Coordinated by the Fraunhofer Institute for Process Engineering and Packaging IVV, this digital transformation of analytics, sensor technology and detection in food quality management will start on July 1, 2021.

Together with scientific institutions and application partners, fundamental concepts are being developed that also involve monitoring and control authorities such as the Bavarian State Office for Health and Food Safety. The proportion of organically farmed land in Bavaria has been rising steadily since 1994 and is to be increased to 30% of agricultural land by 2030 through the BioRegio 2030 program. At the EU level, moreover, the area to be farmed organically will be expanded to 25% from 2023 under the new Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) and the Farm-to-Fork strategy. “Strengthening quality and safety across organic value chains is therefore also of great importance for the competition of the Bavarian organic sector. In order to reduce the need to sort out food raw materials that are damaged or unsuitable for human consumption, we need simple and reliably manageable processes that can be used to analyze raw materials as soon as they are received,” explains Prof. Dr. Andrea Büttner, Executive Director of the Fraunhofer IVV and joint spokesperson for the SHIELD project.

 

Handheld devices and smart software facilitate planning

Sensory detection methods should make it easier to generate quality forecasts and optimize logistics chains in order to address the actual needs of the food industry and consumers. By accurately determining the (organic) raw material quality for processing or delivery to retail, food losses can be significantly reduced.

 

“Among other things, we are combining sensor technologies, optical methods and smart algorithms to develop handheld devices and smart software that can be used in small-scale operations. In addition, detection methods for the authenticity of both raw materials and produced foods are being established.”

– Dr. Susann Vierbauch of the Fraunhofer IVV

 

At the Chair of Aroma and Odor Research at the Friedrich Alexander University of Erlangen-Nuremberg (FAU), marker substances are defined from authentic sample material for quality determination. These form the basis for the development of rapid methods for incoming goods. The Fraunhofer IVV, the Fraunhofer Research Institution for Microsystems and Solid State Technologies EMFT and the Chair of Analytical Food Chemistry at the Technical University of Munich are responsible for the evaluation. Profiling methods are being developed at the Chair of Food Chemistry at FAU in order to be able to systematically detect unexpected problems.

In addition to recording the quality and safety of the delivered raw materials, the rapid and profiling methods are also used to determine the authenticity of the raw materials. During the project, the rapid methods will be continuously compared with further findings and validated in practice at the industrial partners. These findings are incorporated into a data platform that is used for combinatorial analysis and correlation of the measurement results.

 

Digital incoming goods and online logistics

The evaluated low-cost sensors, which are used on site by the industry partners during goods receipt as a quick method as well as during storage, provide valuable data on the quality, safety and authenticity of the raw goods. Thus, the digitization of incoming goods via NIR and optical methods generates an enormous amount of information, e.g., about shape, color, size and texture. This information enables reliable shelf life predictions through pattern recognition and thus improves logistics and formulation during processing. At the Chair of Machine Learning and Data Analytics at FAU, methods and models for shelf life and sales forecasts are being developed for this purpose.

This takes into account the fact that product-specific knowledge can be integrated into the forecasts. In this way, seasonal fluctuations in sales can be taken into account. Based on this, mathematical optimization models are provided at the Chair of Business Mathematics to support the formulation process. These automatically generate suggestions for forward-looking, sustainable production planning. An online approach ensures that logistics and production are always in an optimal state through constant reoptimization when new information arrives.

As part of the project, a needs analysis is being carried out and knowledge transfer established at the Technical University of Nuremberg at the Neumarkt i.d.Opf. site in the research area of management in the organic sector. The aim is, in addition to recording the overall situation in the organic sector, to define the specific challenges and implement the findings from the SHIELD project. In addition, these are then to be transferred to other related product levels.

Food & Beverage News Processing Technologies

Partners in Hygiene: Expansion of services for the food industry 

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Effective September 03, 2021, Leadec has acquired Partners in Hygiene (PiH), a service company specializing in the food industry. The move strengthens Leadec’s presence in the food and beverage industry, as well as in technical cleaning and hygiene services. 

“Hygiene services are an excellent fit with our strongest service line in the UK, technical cleaning. PiH’s experience in food factories in the north of the UK is an ideal addition as part of our strategic diversification into the F&B industry and helps sharpen our portfolio in the manufacturing industry.”

– Georgi Chumburidze, Managing Director Eastern Europe/UK

Partners in Hygiene was founded in 2006 and specializes in sophisticated hygiene services for the food and beverage industry. More than 300 employees provide services in food industry hygiene, basic kitchen cleaning, environmental hygiene and ventilation cleaning. Customers include many food manufacturers in the north of England and Scotland. The company thus serves one of the most demanding industries. 

Diversification of the UK portfolio 

Leadec has been operating in the UK since 1999 and currently employs around 1500 people there. PiH will continue its assignments at the 14 locations in the UK with the existing teams unchanged. 

“We have found a strong partner in Leadec. PiH is firmly established in the UK food industry; Leadec, in turn, has a global presence and great technical expertise, including production maintenance and facility management. The acquisition will enable us to grow further,” says Peter Barker, one of the three managing directors.

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Renewal of the food stock in times of pandemic

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Even more efficiency in logistics – this is now on the agenda of the food discounter in Switzerland Denner. The central warehouse in Mägenwil AG has been modernized in recent months with modern automation technology from Swisslog. The warehouse is the elementary hub for supplying over 250 Denner stores with groceries and important household products. Despite Corona restrictions and a tight schedule, all the work went according to plan.

It was an ambitious project: The modernization of the AG distribution center in Mägenwil, Canton Aargau. Now it has been successfully completed. Swisslog AG from Buchs AG has equipped a high-bay food warehouse for hard goods with modern automation – in pandemic times, during ongoing operations with constantly high capacity utilization.

“As a discounter, we are all about efficiency, while at the same time the demands on logistics are constantly increasing. Ensuring the availability of goods as well as fast and error-free delivery to over 250 stores are decisive factors for the project, while at the same time the conversion also offers added ecological value,” explains Daniel Kindler, Head of the Mägenwil distribution center. “Since the new installation has been in operation, material flows are more efficient and conserve resources,” says Kindler.

Seamlessly coordinated processes

Swisslog replaced twelve older pallet stacker cranes with modern ones and installed new pallet conveyor technology. In addition, two new mezzanine levels were built. In the process, the available time window of only five months was very narrow.

“The challenges were great. The Corona protection measures demanded a lot from us and yet we managed to complete all the work within the specifications.”

– Mario Flory, Project Manager

Part of securing the food supply

In order to disrupt operations at Denner as little as possible, Swisslog undertook the modernization not only during shift times, but also at night and on weekends. In addition, the team worked in stages for major installation measures.

Flory explains, “To enable the removal of the stacker cranes, about a quarter of the high-bay warehouse was emptied by placing a partial assortment externally and picking it there. Thus, we were able to remove 3 old stacker cranes at once and install 3 new ones in 10 days.” After their installation and software connection, goods in the high-bay warehouse were relocated so that the next shelf area became free. Swisslog saved time for the ramp-up in real operation through extensive tests in advance, on Saturdays and Sundays.

Flory concludes: “We are pleased that we were able to play our part in securing the food supply at Denner.

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Personalized nutrition in implementation   

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Now foodRegio e.V. invites you to the third edition of NEWTRITION X. in Cologne on October 12, 2021. The one-day innovation summit will take place as a face-to-face and online event and is aimed at decision-makers from the food industry, trade and commerce in the areas of innovation, corporate development, nutrition, health and well-being. Under the motto “Personalized Nutrition in Implementation”, the focus of the event is on the practical relevance of corresponding concepts for the food and beverage industry. Participants can expect a varied program with nine presentations by well-known speakers.

 As founder of the trend and marketing agency BLOOM, keynote speaker Peter Heshof will explore the question of what consumers want in terms of food. In doing so, he will address the most important nutrition trends and their potential for personalized nutrition. Using his “Zeitgeist Model,” he explains that food trends are no coincidence, but result from the changing Zeitgeist – that is, the prevailing mentality in a society that repeats itself according to a fixed pattern. Today, he said, consumers are convinced that they are different, or individual. As a result, the need for customized and personalized solutions will continue to grow, he said.

“Even for big companies, it is not easy to make customized products for millions of consumers. But they can make a million personalized recommendations on which existing products are best suited for someone. Food manufacturers should therefore work with recognized experts in Personalized Nutrition to innovate and future-proof themselves in this area.”

– Peter Hesho

New startup: innovative food web shop

Sergey Vdovitchenko will present the start-up “My Healthy Food” at the event. The food webshop is aimed directly at end consumers and uses Personalized Nutrition as its guiding principle. The platform aims to combine the benefits of functional ingredients with Personalized Nutrition to meet the growing demand for healthier food.

Core topics include preventive healthcare, sports nutrition and weight management. Using an AI-powered approach based on the individual microbiome, the webshop guides consumers on the path to healthier food choices. Products and recipe suggestions that best suit the personal metabolism are available for selection. In addition, customers can exchange ideas on the platform and share their experiences around these products. This illustrates the long-term purpose and mission of the project.

The company’s approach is to combine the best of “new” and “old” to achieve optimal results. For example, the traditional aspect refers to the use of ancient and rare grain varieties and traditional methods such as fermentation, while at the same time using modern technologies such as microbiome and nutrigenome research. The startup works closely with the GoodMills Group, whose innovative ingredients are offered in the webshop but are also available to food manufacturers and industrial customers.

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