Coffee continues to be one of the most rapidly evolving markets in the food and beverage industry. Variety in flavor options and the growing popularity of cold brew coffee are just a few of the latest market trends.
Consumer preferences and tastes are constantly changing, and to meet market demand while remaining profitable, producers need greater control over their processing and packaging systems.
Coffee producers face a number of challenges today, including:
- Process flexibility
- Maximizing existing assets
- Packaging changes
Let’s take a look at these issues and some potential solutions to keep your plant positioned and prepared to conquer the daily grind.
1. Process Flexibility
The rising cost of coffee beans on the global market is creating purchasing challenges for producers. Some manufacturers are trying to source less expensive, substitute varieties of beans that can be blended to produce a flavor similar to their flagship brands. They are also developing new blends in efforts to capture greater market share.
Flexibility must be built into the processing and automation system to allow manufacturers to:
- Easily change the blend ratio and substitute beans
- Quickly and easily make recipe changes
- Make smaller batches of special blends
- Keep production running on schedule
New blends require systems that will support the production of small quantities of coffee, which impacts green bean cleaning, bin sizing, weigh scales and automation.
2. Maximizing Existing Assets
Consumer preferences are changing as darker roasts have increased in popularity. This creates an asset utilization issue for many producers, as they must evaluate their current equipment configuration, then manipulate their production process and schedule to create a dark roast.
These darker blends require a certain type of roaster, which often must be purchased and added into the production line. Manufacturers should collaborate with process engineers and original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) to determine the most effective way to incorporate dark roasts into the production line.
3. Packaging Changes
Manufacturers in all production industries face challenges with packaging flexibility. Consumers are demanding smaller quantities, and vendors are requesting private label products, which aren’t effectively supported by traditional packaging machines. The use of online printing with the packaging machine is an effective way to satisfy customers and control operating cost and inventory at the same time.
Flexibility in case sizes and shapes, along with print on demand and/or labels, is becoming increasingly important to meet customer and vendor needs. New equipment can be installed that allows a producer to print on demand using the human machine interface (HMI) to adjust the graphics, saving time and increasing efficiency.
Stellar is a fully integrated firm focused on planning, design, pre-construction, construction, refrigeration, mechanical & utility, building envelope, and total operations & maintenance services worldwide. Visit the company's blog at www.stellarfoodforthought.net or learn about its projects at stellar.net.