Five Bulk Material Headlines You May Have Missed in June

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This summer the news has been dominated by the economic pressures of rising inflation and oil prices. The bulk material industry has been no stranger to pressures of our economic environment, with rising costs, supply chain issues, and other problems making business challenging during this trying time. 

Here are five headlines you may have missed in June:

Challenges continue to keep pet food manufacturers on their toes

While the past year has been dominated by exciting developments in pet food production and packaging, tucked in between these stories of a growing sector are challenges in pet food manufacturing. Some of the most common issues pet food manufacturers are facing include:  

Transportation Issues - Rising fuel costs and over 80,000 open trucking jobs have led to difficulties with logistics in many industries.

Finding and retaining employees - Despite COVID closures coming to an end, employers are still scrambling to fill positions in all aspects of pet food manufacturing.

Sourcing Ingredients - Animal fat supplies are tight in the marketplace.  As the fourth largest ingredient source of pet food, plus the usage of animal fat in biodiesel, demand has this ingredient cost at an all-time high.

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Recruitment, engagement and retention to diversity, equality and inclusion Discussed at the BEMA Convention 2022

Workforce issues were top of mind as professionals across the baking industry gathered at the BEMA Convention 2022. From recruitment, engagement and retention to diversity, equality and inclusion, attendees had the opportunity to discuss a variety of topics focusing on the heart of any organization: its employees.

In a panel moderated by Emily Bowers, intention emerged as a key ingredient for success. The panelists recognized the workforce today is not the workforce of even a few years ago, and that it’s paramount for companies to meet their employees where they are. 

Panelists said that intention is particularly important with matters of diversity, equity and inclusion, and that to have a real, meaningful impact, company efforts need to do more than simply check a box.

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CEMA Reports That Conveying Equipment Orders Drop 46%

The Conveyor Equipment Manufacturers Association (CEMA) reported that its April 2022 booked orders decreased by 26% when compared to April 2021 and 46% compared to March 2022. March 2022 booked orders had increased 41% compared to February 2022.

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New Warning Labels to be Required in Canada on Packaged Food High in Fat/Sugar

Foods high in saturated fat, sugars and/or sodium will be required to carry a front-of-package label, in order to grab consumers attention. The required labels are intended to allow consumers to easily identify foods high with potential health hazards.

Foods that will require the front-of-package nutrition symbol include packaged foods that meet or exceed 15% of the daily value of saturated fat, sugars or sodium. Foods in this category include deli meats, soups, frozen desserts and puddings. The regulations will go into effect on July 20, but food companies will have until Jan. 1, 2026, to comply.

“Processors who wish to do so have a few years to review their processes and, in some cases, improve their recipes," said Marie-Claude Bibeau, Canada’s minister of agriculture and agri-food. 

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Labor savings Connected to Investment in Automatic Ingredient Handling

Capital spending has fallen under the microscope with margins compressed under the weight of rising costs, labor shortages and supply chain issues, prompting bakeries and snack producers to examine the return on investment (ROI) with renewed vigor.

Historically, many bakeries have focused capital spending on mixing, makeup and packaging that offer the quickest ROI with a lower initial capital investment than ingredient handling. That’s still the case but automating ingredient handling is getting a second or third look as companies find themselves turning away new business while struggling to consistently meet demand from existing customers.

The bakeries most impacted by the workforce gap are those relying on people to perform basic tasks such as scaling small ingredients and loading them into mixers. Kevin Pecha, director food sales, AZO Food, suggested that automation and strategic investments in technology minimize the repetitive tasks and allow for experienced operators to perform other key duties such as those related to production, sanitation, or quality control.

“The greater the automation, the less reliant a bakery is on having skilled laborers,” Pecha said. “Additionally, the level of automation takes the burden of inconsistency out of the finished product and can perform record keeping without the involvement of the operator.”

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