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From primary food processing to retail packaging: optimizing the production line


These sites, where machines for food processing are produced, accommodate 750 staff and are 100% subsidiaries of the JBT Corporation with 5,000 employees worldwide. They oversee production and planning of the operations and also house significant engineering departments, all dedicated to specific food processing technologies – the core of the business.

Patrick Schoenaers is the Marketing and Communication Coordinator EMEA for JBT Liquid Foods. “We help our customers to translate their brief into the optimum process solution,” he says. He shares the vision of the global giant from his department’s point of view - from the production side of things.

“Product innovation, production quality and safety are major concerns of food processors. JBT is a company that can handle this very well,” Mr. Schoenaers says. He explains that there are three important aspects on a production line: quality of the product and food safety while processing at the lowest possible cost.

The group comprises JBT Aero tech, which produces machines for airline cargo and boarding such as rolling stairs, elevators and boarding bridges, and JBT Foodtech which manufactures machines for the food industry.

The latter division manufactures machines for processing meat and poultry and freezing solutions. The company also operates in the liquid foods industry by manufacturing equipment for the preservation and packaging of all kinds of food.

From beans in tomato sauce to milk and yoghurt – it has a multitude of packaging types and applications. For this reason the company has several vast, specialized production sites. In Amsterdam, it makes machines used for aspectic processing and filling of dairy products, juices and nutraceuticals, whilst in Parma, Italy, machines for primary processing of vegetables, fuits and juices are produced.

In Helsingborg, Sweden, machines for processing meat and for frying and freezing are assembled. To create this portfolio JBT has grown very fast through aggressive yet strategic acquisition activity. Its latest acquisition is Avure Technologies, a firm dealing with high-pressure processing.

“We select our acquisitions carefully so that they offer added value for our current markets,” Mr. Schoenaers says. And while there are several large industry players offering similar services – JBT is one of the top five globally – one of the things which makes the company unique is the fact that it offers such a wide range of customized solutions.

“We engineer our machines for our clients. We start with the requirements for the final product and adapt our machines accordingly,” Mr Schoenaers adds. JBT’s robust market presence thus boils down to its engineering, its know-how in process technology centers, the worldwide customer care service and the fact that it is a financially strong business.

Up until recently, major investments in the food industry were made primarily in South America and Asia Pacific. This is changing; companies are now increasingly investing in Western European and North American production and JBT is positioned to capitalize on this.

“We want to be the number one for our clients – those companies whose applications fit our profile,” Mr Schoenaers says. The company is also working hard to keep abreast of new challenges such the demand for more efficient and flexible production lines, which puts profit margins under pressure.

“Private labels are strong competition for branded products, so branded product manufacturers need to work more efficiently and at the same time invest in innovative product varieties and categories as well. Increasing investment in product development and more efficient production, so that one production line can cope with a variety of products and packaging types is key,” Mr. Schoenaers concludes.

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