4 Critical Steps to Designing a Pet Food Processing Plant

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Millennials love their pets more than their siblings, partners, and parents. It doesn’t, therefore, come as a surprise that they’re willing to spend more on better or premium food to keep their furry friends healthy and happy.

A pet food business can be very profitable. Even though the industry is dominated by big names, such as Nestlé Purina, small players can have an impact on consumers’ purchasing decisions. Pet food is always in the season, so there’s no need to limit cash flow. If you have some initial experience, you can manage the business independently. 

Pet food is an essential commodity for which the demand will increase, so you can happily set up your pet food processing plant. With the expertise of a specialist and structural guidance from an architect, you can fully optimize the space; the value of advanced planning and sound design and construction will be appreciated for many years.

You experience the same opportunities and challenges as everyone else, such as when to renovate or start over. Many consumer trends in the food and beverage market have burgeoned into the pet food market, so you must stay on top. Please continue reading to discover how to design a pet food processing plant from beginning to end. 

Offer Outstanding Pet Food to Be Competitive in The Eyes of Consumers

Consumers, generally, desire a wide range of pet food items to choose from and expect the products to look and taste appetizing. Examples of pet food products include but aren’t limited to dry pet foods (baked kibbles, biscuits, meals, and expanded products), wet pet foods (complete and balanced animal nutrition), semi-moist pet foods (pet foods that contain 15% to 30% water), and snacks and treats.

Pet owners go to greater lengths to address the nutritional needs of their pets, as if the animals were their children, and this has important implications for pet food processing. More precisely, you must pay close attention to detail when it comes to raw material segregation, equipment design, hygiene, conveyance, and cleaning inspections.  

Design The Facility Around Easily Cleanable Construction 

Factory design should be concerned with protecting ingredients, packaging, and intermediate/finished products from contamination in the processing environment. Even if the formulation is a critical element, the production process and application of compounds on the equipment are just as important.

In recent years, there’s been a realignment in government regulations and inspections concerning pet food safety, with a greater emphasis on risk management, so ensure the plant doesn’t give rise to harborage sites for hazards, such as pests and chemicals. It’s recommended to use dedicated equipment to avoid contamination. For instance, a hand tipping unit is a hygienic solution for emptying powder bags. Please visit https://alfraequipment.com/en for more information. 

Aim at spaces with no corners, sharp edges, or gaps while facilitating access for sanitation, washing, and drying. If an older piece of equipment can’t be disassembled, visually or biologically inspected, and doesn’t pass inspections, it’s essential to have it replaced.

Factory workers can transfer foreign materials and microorganisms into the facility, so they must change into personal protective equipment and wash their hands before entering the food processing area to achieve safety and quality assurance. A zoning plan may be implemented if you’ve identified potential areas for microbiological cross-contamination. Also, there needs to be a recognition of non-microbial hazards, as they have to be controlled when segregating them from other ingredients. 

Separate Raw and Finished Products 

It appears that consumers prefer the meat content of pet foods to be higher, so the products must be prepared under strict conditions to reduce biological issues. During the extrusion process, the dough is heated under pressure and forced through a die machine to create the desired shape. One of its key functions is sterilization – no live bacteria can survive high temperatures and pressure.

It goes without saying that raw ingredients should be separated from finished products, so the design should incorporate floor levels that don’t align to prevent workers from accidentally crossing into the wrong zone. If you produce more than one hypoallergenic product, ensure the line is cleaned from top to bottom. 

With time, you’ll develop the capacity to load products to trucks, incorporating food processing equipment like stationary/movable hoppers or movable weighing mixers. Each terminal will have different logistics arrangements and out loading schedules.

It may not look like it, but loading and unloading are the most critical points in the supply chain, so it’s not a good idea to leave this process unmonitored. The total volume of the line can increase with an unchanged silo block. As far as vehicle transport is concerned, it’s necessary to avoid damage and contamination, so think critically about your processes and procedures and devise actionable steps. 

Where And How Pet Food Ingredients Are Stored Makes a Huge Difference 

To achieve the right balance of ingredients, you can use meat, vegetables, fish, cereals, vitamins, minerals, and so on. Proper storage of pet food ingredients ensures optimal nutritional value. The most important thing to remember is that raw materials should be stored in the same way human food ingredients are stored.

Ingredients such as grains are typically put in silos, as they provide natural oxygenation and reduce electrical costs. Meat, poultry, and fish are stored using refrigerated units because they have a shorter lifespan. Without traceability, problems with the final products might lead to investigations. 

Temperature monitoring is of the essence, meaning that you need an adequate plan and a thorough understanding of the processes within the pet food processing plant. Electronic temperature documentation is necessary at every link in the supply chain; you should also have timestamps to know for how long the products were in storage.

For frozen pet meals and treat products, you can deploy a carbon dioxide or nitrogen system to reduce temperature and maintain high quality. Time is money in business, so you must do your best to reduce chilling and freezing times. 

Wrapping It Up 

Before assuming you must build the pet food processing plant from scratch, reach out to an expert to determine if you can rebuild and repurpose an old location. Processing equipment (raw material dosing, internal transfer, finished product handling, and storage) will streamline operations and make them less labor-intensive.

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