Thermal management is crucial to processing, storing and delivering several types of snacks and baked goods. The latest systems cover a wide range of functions, including chilling dough, cooling product after exiting the oven, and refrigerating or freezing finished product. Specialized cold storage facilities also are part of the mix.
For snack food and select baked goods producers today, flexibility is the most sought-after feature of form/fill/seal (FFS) packaging equipment. Manufacturers also seek modular designs that provide scalable solutions and flexible layout configurations.
Advances in fleet management are being driven by routing and scheduling software linked to in-cab vehicle tracking equipment that streamlines the delivery process. These advances can help cut costs and better monitor delivery of products in a market where on-time delivery is crucial.
When it comes to packaging materials, one of the biggest consumer demands cited by bakers and snack producers is the need for extended shelf life—packaging that makes food last longer on the store shelf and in the refrigerator.
Warehouse automation has evolved significantly in recent years to a level where warehouse execution systems (WES) are now available to streamline material flow and order picking. These systems offer bakeries and snack producers a better way to store and ship goods to market.
Retail-ready packaging (RRP) solutions range from large corrugated boxes with loose packages to smaller, notched paperboard holders for stand-up display of carded packages. Retailers benefit from RRP because it gives them shelf-ready inventory in seconds, cutting the time it takes to check in and stock shelves.
Many aspects of mixing equipment for snack and bakery applications, including doughs and batters, continue to evolve, including more automated controls, better sanitary design, vacuum/pressure capabilities and shorter cycling times.
Efficient cold-chain management is vital to bakers and snack producers, as consumers demand products that are fresh and government regulations require food producers to ensure food safety. Product traceability is another factor impacting this area.
When it comes to baked goods and snacks, consumers increasingly look for products in resealable, standup pouches and flexible packaging. It boosts ease-of-use for consumers, and helps improve the ability to keep foods fresh. As a result, bakers and snack producers are helping retailers meet this demand by investing in equipment capable of making packaging with popular closures, such as press-to-close zippers and sliders.
Ingredient traceability is a growing compliance challenge for bakers and snack producers. Statistics show that the number of food-safety recalls has risen rapidly in recent years, and recalls are becoming more costly. Product recalls can cost companies millions of dollars, and damage to the brand’s reputation can impact sales potential for years to come. For companies impacted by recalls—including through potential ingredient contamination—rapid responsiveness is key to minimizing their impact.