GEA opens new R&D center to drive innovation in pet food production

Interactive pet food workshops offered

Learning and hands-on education play an important role at the new GEA Pet Food Experience Center. This includes learning about, and understanding how, dry pet food extrusion-cooking technology works; what the main process requirements are; how to operate and maintain the equipment, what role digitalization plays and how to use it in processes, and many other important topics. The R&D center can also be used as a training ground for customer employees, where they can learn about efficient processing and best practice. Workshops provide the participants with an introduction to the basics of extrusion-cooking technology, focusing on preconditioning, energy consumption, as well as the importance of moisture and mass flow balance. The primary aim is to help attendees learn how to be efficient at every step of the dry pet food production process, which includes: selection of raw materials, raw material intake, handling, weighing and dosing, mixing, grinding, conditioning, extrusion-cooking, forming, drying, coating and storage/packaging.

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Hands-on exercises give participants a unique opportunity to learn about the engineering behind our twin-screw extrusion-cooking technology, screw configuration, selecting the proper die and cutting device, SME control, product density control as well as their significance in various methods of product coating. The skills and know-how learned in these practical demonstrations can then be used in the R&D pilot plant.

Next-generation technology solutions for modern dry pet food

Pet food customers are increasingly looking for products that mirror those available to humans, not only from a nutritional and production quality standpoint, but also in terms of the variety of formats. Thanks to its long history and experience in developing food processing technologies, GEA can offer advanced solutions that are capable of setting new standards in the market. 

“Our philosophy is about working alongside our customers, supporting them in creating and developing innovative products, helping them define the formulation, form, consistency, weight, flavor and color of their particular product to ensure it satisfies the demands of end-consumers, which in this case includes pet owners and pets. Our common goal of achieving an innovative and high-quality industrial production begins with collaboration at the research phase and culminates with the provision of advanced processing technologies, based on the customer’s specific requirements and KPIs,” says Vanni Antonello, R&D Senior Technologist for GEA.

GEA offers complete solutions to produce dry food of the highest quality for dogs and cats. GEA understands this market is changing and diversifying rapidly, which is why the company offers customized process solutions for fresh meat inclusion, grain-free formulations and alternative protein sources, including equipment for snacks and treats production. The offer includes designing and implementing these solutions to meet specific customer requirements – all followed up with professional service and support as required. 

Let’s co-develop: kibbles, pillows and dental sticks 

The size, shape and moisture content of each product is determined by the individual recipe, which often includes a large amount of fresh meat. The sophisticated twin screw extruders with their unique dough conditioners, ensure precision results and meet the highest standards requirements for pet food production while reducing costs significantly. 

GEA has made its own detailed study of those pet food formulations and formats that both satisfy energy and nutritional needs, while also whetting the pet’s appetite. GEA solutions for making kibbles – the most common food in pet diets, produce compositions and formats that are varied according to pet size, age and health. Likewise, additional ingredients can be incorporated in the kibble to fulfill other functional needs. Pillows, on the other hand, are snacks or that tasty reward for positive pet behavior. Using extrusion-cooking technology, GEA combines grains with a flavorful and nutritious filling based on the specific requirements. Dental sticks are designed and developed specifically to help dogs keep their teeth clean. Thanks to their unique shape, sticks are able to get into those hard-to-reach areas to clean teeth, which protects the pet’s health while providing them with the nutrients they need.