The ever-increasing costs of ingredients, along with the rising cost of labor, means portion control is steadily becoming one of the most important factors in controlling overall operating cost, according to suppliers in the industry.
“We’ve seen a growing demand for our equipment that quickly and very accurately portions flowable products,” says Lance Aasness, executive vice president for Bothell, Washington-based Hinds-Bock.
“Consumers, on the other hand, want to know that they are purchasing a consistent product each and every time. Whether it be for flavor, label concerns or calorie counting, consumers expect to purchase exactly what they see in the package.”
And it’s not just immediate cost that is driving the increased interest in portion control.
“Food safety, labor issues and rising ingredient costs are issues that directly impact the necessity of portion control equipment,” says Andy Sigrist, senior product manager for Unifiller, headquartered in British Columbia.
Savvy food manufacturers understand that portioning equipment can facilitate greater production yields and help manage costs through accurate portioning, he added.
“More recently increases in minimum wages means that manufacturers need to turn to alternative production methods using automation.”
Portioning equipment can also help create a more reliable consistent product, both in taste and look.
“We’re seeing a greater demand for portioning and decorating equipment all over the world,” Sigrist says. “Whatever the satiation, incorporating a semi-automatic filling machine into production can be an ideal solution.”
For starters, manual depositing can be tiring, time consuming and straining, putting employees at the risk of injury or neglect when the task gets monotonous. It also increases the likelihood of contamination, Sigrist says, which can impact the bottom line in different ways.
“Allergens and cross-contamination are a concern now more than ever before, so machines need to be easy to clean, easy to use and minimize downtime,” he says.
But the top missed opportunity is still simply the chance to reduce material expenses. “Ingredient cost is the number one reason,” Aasness says. “Incorrect and inaccurate portioning at the end of the year will definitely affect your bottom line.”