1- Diversity requires more flexibility from filling machines
Almost two thirds of yogurts launched in the Middle East and North Africa are now flavoured yogurts. Playing with universally appreciated flavours such as strawberry, vanilla and peach, but also with emerging ones (mango, blueberry, pistachio, coconut) is one of the main growth opportunities for manufacturers in the region. But it requires high flexibility in recipe changeover.
Product launches can also combine new flavours with different cup sizes to cover different consumption patterns as it is already the case for unflavoured yogurts. Another challenge for the filling unit.
But it should not be forgotten that pre-formed cups can also be used to pack traditional recipes such as labneh, ayran or raïeb, creams, sour creams, fermented milks, melted and spreadable cheese. Such a diversity surely raises a flexibility issue for any manufacturer who is planning to invest in a new packaging line, or to replace an existing equipment, and who is looking for a versatile, long-lasting solution.
For flexibility to be implemented with minimum consequences on production capacity and manufacturing costs, 3 criteria should be closely looked after:
- tooling changeover must be as simple as possible to make sure it can be carried out quickly, without tools, by the operator himself,
- recipe changeover must be thought of and optimized by the machine manufacturer to avoid as much time and product losses as possible,
- cleaning operations must be carried out as fast as possible, with a minimum amount of water and maximum efficiency.
“ Yogurts claiming to contain no additives and to be more natural are those who accounted the highest increase in product launches’ share between 2013 and 2015 in Middle East and North Africa countries “
The region is following a worldwide trend pushed by higher customer expectations regarding food quality, and the « no additives » segment is steadily transforming from a niche to a mainstream one.
2- New texture claims generate specific requirements on filling units
La variété des textures commence à gagner les marchés du Moyen-Orient et de l’Afrique du Nord. Jusqu’à récemment, les lancements de produits concernaient les textures crémeuses et onctueuses mais suivre les tendances des autres régions du monde avec des textures épaisses, croquantes ou avec morceaux est une opportunité de croissance à saisir.
Texture claims start to unfold on the Middle East and North Africa markets. Up to now, product launches focus on creamy and smooth textures but another growth opportunity might be to follow trends from other regions in the world and claim for thick, chunky or crunchy textures. This means that both packaging and dosing possibilities of filling machines must be carefully considered. Low-output machines can now be used for unflavoured to high-end products, such as layered yogurt containing real pieces of fruit or two-compartment cups with yogurt on one side and fruits, honey or granola on the other one.
3- No additives and/or preservatives might call for higher hygiene level
Brands must thus properly evaluate whether their current hygiene standards are adequate for new, more sensitive products such as yogurts with a fruit layer containing no preservatives. They should also anticipate a higher concern of customers for food safety, which might become an issue if some manufacturers fail at mastering the packaging of products without preservatives.
It might be interesting to consider, for a new machine, having the best ultra-clean design concept (including features such as laminar flows and automatic cleaning) implemented, or check how a machine can be upgraded (by adding, for example, a cup packaging decontamination unit) to secure the future. Serac also offers some specific options to secure and extend the shelf-life of products containing no preservatives, such as an additional cleaning circuit at the rear side of the nozzle which guarantees an ultra-clean level of hygiene.
Neo machine recently sold in the Middle East and North Africa
A Neo machine has been designed to fill set yogurt, sour cream, labneh and ayran, coming out from production at a temperature between 10°C and 45°C, in 8 different cup formats (both square and round) ranging from 150 to 1000 ml. Production outputs go from 3,000 to 5,000 cups per hour. Another one is used to fill set yogurt as well as stirred yogurt, some of which on top of a jam layer, in cups of 125 and 400 g at an output between 1,200 and 2,000 cups per hour. On both machines, changeovers require no tool and can be done within 15 minutes.
Neo - Filling and sealing machine for preformed cups
These fill-seal machines are not limited to yoghurts; they are also capable of dosing pasty and highly viscous products. For spreadable cheeses that require a hot filling process, Serac has developed a specific tank equipped with a motorized agitator, a double or triple jacket with water circulation that maintains the product at the right temperature (around 75 – 80°C) and a full temperature monitoring system. The dosing system is associated with nozzles dedicated to viscous runny products.
The latest version of Neo can fill up to 12 000 cups per hour.
The Modulo filling nozzle
The Neo machines dosing system receive the new Modulo nozzle, a revolutionary concept which does not require to disassemble the full nozzle when switching from a product to another. The Modulo nozzle consists of a fixed part and several heads that are selected according to product’s texture and changed very easily. Combined with the dosing range (from 5 to 1000 ml) and accuracy of the Neo machines, the Modulo nozzle is the ultimate tool to manage a wide array of recipes on a single machine