CHICAGO — More than a year’s worth of preparation went into planning, developing and implementing the three live production lines featured at this year’s Process Expo, held Oct. 23 to 25 at the McCormick Place Convention Center in Chicago. Thirty-one companies participated in the three production lines which produced pet treats, bacon and empanadas in a total of 27 live demonstrations for Process Expo attendees.

“This year’s lines showed tremendous diversity in product as well as technology, providing attendees with different ideas for solutions that can be applied to a wealth of other products,” said Andy Drennan, senior vice president of the Food Processing Suppliers Association (FPSA).

The biennial show, co-hosted by FPSA and Messe Frankfurt, has featured live production lines since 2017.

Of the 31 participating companies, 11 were featured as part of the pet treat production line.

“At over $20 billion a year and growing, the pet treat segment offers tremendous opportunity for the industry,” said Patrick McGady, chair of the FPSA Pet Foods Council and president of Handtmann USA. “That is why we build these production lines at Process Expo, as they are the perfect platform to highlight the latest advances in technology to food manufacturers so they can improve their efficiencies and further strengthen the bottom line. In addition, this year’s line featured an AI component that can put more useful information in the hands of the user, enabling them to have a much better understanding of real time metrics to further maximize production.”

The companies collaborated to develop a line that would grind, mix, form and freeze dry pet treats before packaging, inspecting and palletizing them.

Companies participating in the pet treat line at this year’s show included:

  • CRB – serving as project manager;
  • GEA – featuring its GEA PowerGrind 200 with Bone Elimination System (BES);
  • Handtmann – featuring its Inotec IVM VarioMix;
  • Provisur Technologies – highlighting its Formax® NovaMax150 former;
  • MontBlancAI – displaying its Artificial Intelligence software tool;
  • Parker Freeze Dry – highlighting its Summit industrial freeze drying unit;
  • Mayfran International – featuring its Shuffle Drive Conveyor;
  • Ryson – presenting its Ryson 100 Series Bucket Elevator;
  • Matrix Packaging – displaying its Pacraft TT8DN pre-made pouch packaging machine, which was paired with a Yamato scale;
  • Anritsu – featuring the M6 Combo IP66: check weighing and metal detection machine, the XR7534 sanitary X-ray machine and the KRA4104AW dual flipper rejector machine/station; and 
  • JLS Automation – presenting its Osprey Flex with a Lantech erector and sealer, and its Condor palletizer.

During the three-day show, FPSA and Messe Frankfurt also announced a realignment and rebranding of Process Expo to the new identity of the Equipment And Technology Show for Food & Beverage (EATS), which will debut in 2025. The organizers’ objective is to create new experiences for attendees.

While the core of EATS will be like Process Expo — the food and technology equipment manufacturers — under the new platform there will be an expanded focus on eight key sectors: bakery, beverage, cannabis, dairy, pet food, prepared food, proteins and sweets.

In addition, EATS will further develop the interactive programs currently available on the show floor of the former Process Expo to include more demonstrations, tastings and other experiences. Additionally, future programs will capture industry trends while bringing attendees the latest equipment and technological advances.

David Seckman, president and chief executive officer of FPSA, said the association fully supports the evolution of Process Expo to EATS.

“With the rapid pace of change in this dynamic industry, it makes sense for us to continually look at our event and shape it in ways that brings ever more value to our constituents including both suppliers to the industry as well as the end user,” he said. “We are confident that EATS is yet one more step in that direction.”

Drennan added, “We look forward to the 2025 EATS show where we expect to expand the production line program even more.”

Read more about pet food and treat industry events.