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Obesity buzzword now a part of the food processing language

‘Consumers seek healthier products but it’s difficult when you cook snacks in fat’

By Jenny Eagle+

14-May-2014
Last updated on 14-May-2014 at 14:31 GMT

Neil Anderson (left) Joseph Mistretta, president, FOODesign and Michael Green, MD, tna Australia
Neil Anderson (left) Joseph Mistretta, president, FOODesign and Michael Green, MD, tna Australia

Future food processing trends will focus on convenience, which in turn will see healthier options for snacks on-the-go in terms of the variety of flavour and texture, according to tna.

FoodProductionDaily caught up with former PPM Technologies president of global sales and marketing, Neil Anderson at Interpack 2014 as he takes on the role of sales for FOODesign in North America, following a takeover by tna.

Consumer trends change regularly

Anderson will be supporting the FOODesign equipment team but he can offer assistance on other areas at tna in identifying the type of product it wants to process.

We work closely with customers to service their needs and help them develop a new product. I will take responsibility for the cooking and processing of those products,” he said.

I will be assisting a customer to get over the hurdles they have from going from a laboratory to a commercial product. They may be looking to provide a more healthier option, a low fat product, which is difficult when you are cooking the product in fat to begin with.

Working with customers on different materials and ways of coming up with technology to help them make that claim is something we have to work and collaborate on together we don’t have the answer off the shelf, that’s where FOODesign comes in – it co-designs and co-develops a machine to give the client what it is looking for.

We don’t know what that is at the time because it changes so much and the customer is keen to follow consumer trends and that is changing regularly, we find ourselves having to switch and change during the course of the development of a specific product, the advantage of our equipment is that it is flexible enough to do that.

Anderson said having worked in the industry for 23 years the biggest changes he has seen are in the speed of process, the volume of process and, as the market has changed globally customers are homing in on very specific products, including ethnic and more healthier snacks.

We take on the responsibility

Schools have a big say in the demands for healthy eating, obesity is coming into the language more so we have to be mindful of those things,” he added.

The way we are able to adapt the equipment and control the process to get the result our customer is looking for has led to us taking on more responsibility rather than just providing a frying machine, or snack.

“It now becomes integrated into that machine and into other processes to get the end result. It’s more about having a turnkey product and providing a total responsibility that the customer is looking for, it’s not just about a machine any more.

We have had to transition from being a machine manufacturer to a process technology provider and that takes time to do that.”

Anderson added ‘sometimes people don’t want to admit the trend is moving towards convenience food but it is’.

We have more convenience food and a healthier option of that food so we’re seeing more of a variety in flavours, more of a taste experience for the consumer, when he puts a product into his mouth he wants instant taste and gratification - not just for the flavouring but the texture and make-up of the product, FOODesign is able to fill that space,” he said.

It takes a long time to get there

He said the best part of the job was being able to work with a number of customers with completely different ideals.

We are not always going to the same customer trying to sell the same machine and application. It’s the variety that is enjoyable. The worst part is, it takes a long time to get there and provide a technology,” added Anderson.

We often like instant gratification and that doesn’t happen in our industry. Once everything has been determined and the parameters set we can kick into gear and design and manufacture a machine in a relatively short time, it varies from 16-20 weeks, which is not long when the product has taken six years to develop. We would like to try and shorten that development process.”

He said the company was working on a number of developments on the bakery side, at the application of ingredients and a decorative topping.

We have some equipment that allows the temperature of a product to transition to a manageable heat control. This is primarily on the deep fat frying products for snacks,” he said.

The challenge is manufacturers have a number of suppliers who have been slim on the ground on who they can go to, to fulfil their requirements. This is where the strength of the tna FOODesign acquisition comes from - to present a complete package to the customer.

We can provide a snack food processing line from a potato to a bag and we can roll that out anywhere in the world.

My dream would be to develop a product with a customer that’s never been seen before and to develop a piece of processing equipment that hasn’t been used previously. It would be exciting to put our stamp on that and proudly say that we created and developed it.”

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