CHICAGO — Processors in search of solutions joined suppliers representing the pet food, meat, bakery, prepared foods, beverage and dairy industries in Chicago, Oct. 8 to 11, to discuss the latest technologies in food processing.

Sponsored by the Food Processing Suppliers Association (FPSA), PROCESS EXPO 2019 featured more than 500 companies exhibiting manufacturing solutions across industry segments. FPSA was committed to helping attendees make the most of their time with orientation tours, industry segment brochures, five live production lines accompanied by detailed presentations and audience Q&A opportunities, plus 17 different educational sessions on the show floor, including pet food premiumization, supply chain for legal cannabis, IIoT, HPP for pet food and food safety — in partnership with the Food Safety Summit — all designed to bring value to visitors.

“We received very positive feedback from the attendees who truly appreciate the focus of PROCESS EXPO exclusively on food and beverage processing, and the opportunity to see the newest equipment, technology and solutions for them to bring back to their companies. Many were excited about the five working production lines where they were able to see real product being produced,” said FPSA Chairman Jarrod McCarroll, president of Weber, Inc. “We would like to thank our exhibitors, attendees, sponsors, partners and all of the FPSA committees for their hard work and dedication in making this year’s PROCESS EXPO an important gathering for the food and beverage processing industry.”

For the first time at PROCESS EXPO, pet food was in the spotlight. FPSA added live demonstrations of a kibble pet food production line featuring raw, minimally processed kibble, bites or treats for freeze-drying or dehydration. The demonstration featured equipment from Provisur Technologies, Cozzini (a subsidiary of Middleby Corporation Brands) and Handtmann Inc. In addition to the pet food kibble demonstration, the show featured four additional production lines including sliced salami, ground beef patties, frozen pizza and sliced cheese. Each demonstration drew a crowd and was repeated 10 times during the three-and-a-half day event.

Pet food was also the focus of two educational presentations. Kevin Kennedy with JBT/Avure Technologies shared the latest trends in high-pressure pasteurization (HPP) for pet food; and Jared Koerten, an analyst covering packaged foods for Euromonitor International, discussed how a new era of pet owners is redefining premiumization and near-term and long-term opportunities for premium-led growth in the global pet food and treat market. Pet Food Processing had a chance to catch up with Jared following his presentation.



Giving back

Supporting the industries and the communities it serves was clearly an important goal of this event. As part of the Foundation of the Food Processing Suppliers Association’s (FFPSA) 2019 Defeat Hunger Campaign, the foundation joined forces with the Greater Chicago Food Depository to run a food drive during PROCESS EXPO. Expo participants could get involved by bringing grocery or monetary donations to the show or by making an online donation. For every $1 donated to the Defeat Hunger Campaign, the Greater Chicago Food Depository can provide three meals for families in need. On the third day of the show, FFPSA presented a $75,000 check to the Greater Chicago Food Depository which will be used to help fight hunger in the Greater Chicago Area. In addition, PROCESS EXPO exhibitor Nations Pizza donated thousands of frozen pizzas, CBM Global donated ready-to-eat meals, and others provided monetary gifts to support the campaign.

“We received very positive feedback from the attendees who truly appreciate the focus of PROCESS EXPO exclusively on food and beverage processing, and the opportunity to see the newest equipment, technology and solutions for them to bring back to their companies," said FPSA Chairman Jarrod McCarroll.

On Wednesday, Oct. 9, FPSA announced the initiation of the Food Industry Technician (FIT) Certification Program. Classes launched with Lincoln Technical Institute offer instructional training and education for prospective food and beverage industry technicians. The FIT program will offer standardized training to provide future industry technicians with the skill sets necessary for working with the increasingly complex equipment being used in the food industry with the goal of having FIT graduates gainfully employed within the industry. Prospective FIT students were invited to attend the show and encouraged to talk with the technicians at exhibiting companies.

The FPSA Women's Alliance Network Breakfast featured Suzanne Strassburger, the “First Lady of Meat” and CEO of Strassburger Steaks, who delivered an inspiring keynote discussion. The Network's inaugural Red Circle Honors program recognized three women and an FPSA member company for their achievements in the food and beverage industry. The honorees included: Nancy Corriveau, Blentech Corporation, for career excellence; Nicole Chestnut, Rome Grinding Solutions for rising star; Carole Tonello-Samson, Hiberbac, for innovation and inspiration; and The Haskell Company for achievement in developing and promoting women.


Spotlighting innovation

Seventeen finalists in the Innovations Showcase and Awards program presented their latest cutting-edge technology and equipment to a panel of food processor judges, who selected the Most Innovative New Product winners in six categories, and the winners were: for pet foods and treats —  FoodSafe Conveyance Workshop, Commercial Food Sanitation, an Intralox Company; for meat, poultry and seafood — Foreign Material Inspection System, ProSpection Solutions; for bakery, grains, nuts, seeds and snacks — FlexFlow Precision Spray Control System, BETE Fog Nozzle, Inc.; for prepared foods, fruits and vegetables — Grote Robotics, Grote Company; for cheese, dairy, milk and yogurt — PP20H Pressure Sensor, Baumer; and for beverages, coffee blends and juices — ThinkTop®, Alfa Laval.

Although PROCESS EXPO happens just once every two years and will return Sept. 2021, FPSA’s programs and services provide learning and networking opportunities among industry colleagues year-round. FPSA members are organized in vertical industry councils which focus on specific needs and concerns that are unique to each industry sector. FPSA councils currently represent the pet food, bakery, beverage, dairy, prepared foods and meat sectors.

Read more about associations and agencies impacting the pet food industry.