Neil Giles, marketing communications manager for the product inspection division of Mettler-Toledo, said the bakery sector is mushrooming with variety beyond the simple white loaf - with whole meal varieties, seeded loaves and nut inclusions increasing in popularity.
“Demands from consumers are paramount in the bread industry but consumer demand and appetite for variety puts pressure on manufacturers,” Giles told BakeryandSnacks.com.
Consumer expectations on bread quality across the globe remain high, and manufacturers know this, he added.
“As a result, bakers will need more flexible production inspection,” he said.
Flexible product inspection enables bakers to measure and assess different processes and stages of processing as well as control testing according to the product.
Mounting pressures: Variety, quality and complex processing
Bakers not only face the challenge of broader and more varied product lines when inspecting safety and quality, but also complex production with multiple processes, Giles said, adding to the need for flexible product inspection.
Complex production means careful attention is required at different stages, he said, from raw materials such as flour, to baking, through to packaging the final good.
Vision inspection to check labels has become increasingly important given the increased varieties in bakeries, he said.
“There are so many different types of labels and packaging materials and bakery machines run at high speeds – so capturing an error early is very, very important. Catching it before it leaves the factory is critical.”
“The number of recalls due to contamination is probably falling slightly and is at lower levels however there are a lot of recalls due to mislabeled
products. There is a lot more detail now on bakery labels, particularly with allergens.”
Check-weighing is also crucial when producing a variety of baked goods, Giles said.
“Check-weighing the dough before processing to identify any portions that are too small or too large can optimize the manufacturing process and save costs,” he said.
Bakery manufacturers also need to ensure raw materials are safe, he said, and this can be done in-house or through agreements with suppliers.
“Larger bakery manufacturers will tend to install their own product inspection systems for raw materials such as flour, but small and medium enterprises don’t tend to have the scope to put systems in at multiple points in the processing line. In this case, firms will put the responsibility on suppliers.”
Broad effective inspection programs
“Effective product inspection is more than just putting a machine at the end of the line – it’s a whole program. It’s about the positioning of the equipment, ensuring it performs correctly and has optimized settings – all these items are part of an effective program,” Giles said.
The specialist said bakers should consider five points when optimizing product inspection:
- Understand the regulations
- Know your product
- Increase risk awareness
- Optimize productivity
- Rely on the experts
“It’s a technological area when selecting the right product inspection equipment and for bread and baked goods manufacturers we urge them to contact inspection companies with a lot of expertise.”
“Recalls can be expensive in both real costs and immeasurable costs like brand and reputation damage. For small businesses, these costs can be catastrophic.”
Investing in product inspection can reduce the likelihood of recalls and enable manufacturers to address any production issues in-house, before the product has left the factory, Giles said.