Wet Pet Food Industry
The shelf stable pet food industry has grown very dynamically in recent years. While the pet population continues to grow at unprecedented rates, pet owners are also much more conscious about what their pets are consuming. Pet owners are also becoming attentive to reading labels relative nutritional benefits and new flavors as decision factors.
The convenience factor for presenting the portioned food has also driven new types of container formats. Easy open, single serve containers in 3oz. and 6oz. portions are very prominent in the pet food space in cans, cups, and pouches.
Stock America has a wide product range of equipment for processing wet pet food with the ability to offer both batch and continuous processes for retorted cans, pouches, tubs, and cups. Stock’s customer base consists of co-packers, major pet food processors, and smaller craft pet food brands to provide the right solution that fits the customers line speed throughput, container variety, and quality requirements.
Wet Pet Food Commercial Sterilization
Due to its formulation and viscosity, retorted pet food is a conduction heated product. Agitation does not offer any benefits due to the density of the packed product. Canned pet food is typically processed using saturated steam to heat the product followed by cooling steps that include air overpressure to maintain container integrity. For flexible pouches or semi-rigid cups and bowls, air overpressure is required in the heating and cooling phases to ensure seam integrity. The Steam-Water Spray process provides a good combination of steam and high velocity water droplets for efficient heat transfer that executes fast come-up heating times versus competing overpressure processes.
Retort Process Selection
For Batch processes, Stock can offer saturated steam retorts for cans, steam-water spray retorts for flexible containers that require air overpressure, or a retort that can combine both processes to provide the greatest container flexibility. With multiple retort diameters and lengths available, Stock will customize your retort to provide the best product yield at the lowest cost per case. The Stock ICON batch retort control system provides the highest level of food safety approved by FDA and USDA.
For processors that do not require multiple container changeovers, the Hydrolock Continuous Retort is the perfect selection. The system takes product directly from the filler and automatically loads carriers that runs product into the continuous chain driven retort to provide high volume throughput. Product then exits the retort and is automatically unloaded from the carriers and sent to end of line packaging. This lights-out processing system also saves a significant amount of energy compared to batch system approach. The package is outfitted with the Stock ICON continuous retort control system to provide food safety that meets or exceeds regulatory requirements.
Material Handling Options
Upstream and downstream of the retorts, Stock offers multiple Material Handling solutions to handle high speed lines as well as entry level automation alternatives for semi-auto or manual loading and unloading of the containers into baskets of trays.
For loading and unloading the product loads in and out of the retorts, Stock offers manual options using push carts, semi-auto operator assisted retort loading, or a totally automated shuttle or AGV systems.
Designing the plant layout to plan for future automation upgrades affords customers a unique approach to grow over time based on commercial requirements thereby minimizing the capital spend on the front end of a new installation.
Entry Level Pet Food Processing Approach
Due to the recent surge in pet food processing, many smaller “craft” pet food companies have entered the market to offer new pet food formulations. Stock America is a great resource in assisting new processors with a strategy to provide equipment to support incremental growth of their business using a modular approach to the capital purchase of equipment. Our equipment offerings are designed to provide a fit for every line speed and a strategy to grow over time without taking steps backward as production demands increase.
In addition, Stock has a functioning pilot plant that can produce both batch and continuous retort processes to assist in the product development stages required to develop commercial processes for production plants.
Stock supports the technical sale, machinery design details, project management and installation 100% with an experienced in-house technical team of engineers and service technicians along with a large inventory of replacement parts.