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A slice of success: how JBT FTNON helped Gills Onions boost yield & cut costs

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Minimizing unnecessary labor costs and maximizing yield are two key concerns for any company processing vegetables, fruits and other produce for further consumption, but when it comes to onions one major processor found a workable means of achieving this aim to be strangely lacking. Gills Onions, an Oxnard, California-based company and one of the biggest suppliers of pre-sliced onions to the US foodservice and restaurant sectors, set JBT’s FTNON the task of coming up with a workable solution to these challenges.

The result of several years’ hard work between Gills Onions and FTNON was the Magnetic Onion Peeler, a solution that has enabled the California business to both maximize yield and solve the difficulty of having an easy-to-clean, hygienic onion peeling system. The story behind the successful end result is a testament to how effective close collaboration between a customer and a manufacturer can be. 

Cross-country coverage
Gills Onions’ beginnings can be traced back to 1976 when Steve and David Gill, brothers with a family background in agriculture, purchased 200 acres for onion and vegetable production in Monterey County. Three years later in 1979, a further 200 acres were added and in 1983, the Gill Brothers opened a sustainable onion processing plant, establishing Gills Onions in the process. 

Today, the company farms more than 20,000 acres of diversified vegetable farming, producing two crops a year on a site where the company’s first beginning were established.

“Anybody that peels onions in the world knows us and knows what we do,” says Steve Gill. “At Gills, we produce onions for all the foodservice channels and broadline distributors in the US and Canada, including many of the main restaurant chains.

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Gills Onions’ co-founder Steve Gill

The company grows more than 2,000 acres of onions in California that provides a year-round supply of fresh onions to their Oxnard fresh-cut processing facility. They supply to foodservice, industrial and retail customers throughout the US and Canada. 

Gills’ onion products notably also have an 18-day shelf life; an achievement which significantly sets the company apart from the competition. “The growing process, and how process the onions, results in an additional 10-12 days of shelf-life on average,” adds Gill.

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Mutual understanding
According to co-founder Steve Gill, Gills Onions relationship with JBT can be traced back some 35 years, during which time a mutual understanding of trust and reliability has developed between the two companies. “I’ve been dealing with a single engineer from JBT called Pedro Salcedo for 35 years now,” he explains. “The relationship has been one that’s personal and technology-wise they have always adapted to our needs.”

This relationship of trust formed the basis for Gills Onions setting JBT and its specialist fresh vegetable processing subsidiary FTNON a challenge: to develop an onion peeling solution that could overcome the hygiene and cleaning challenges associated with processing onions. 

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“Nobody likes to peel onions, so as a result onion operations don’t get the attention to shelf life and quality that they need,” explains Gill. 

“When we were looking for an onion peeler, we couldn’t find anything out there that we were able to clean, so that’s what took so long,” he continues. “There’s a lot of peelers in the world, but none of them could meet our expectations. Many of these machines couldn’t be cleaned properly and we found the manufacturers reluctant to work on a more hygienic design. This is part of the reason why the relationship we have with the JBT-FTNON team is so valuable – they wanted to work closely with us to develop the design we needed.”

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Yield increase
However, the unveiling of the onion peeling solution was not immediate. In fact, it took six years’ hard work for the FTNON team to achieve the hygiene, easy-to-clean design that Gills was seeking; work which Steve Gill says has more than paid off.

The result is the FTNON Magnetic Onion Peeler 200, a solution whose design, components and materials have been specially developed to ensure it delivers high marks when it comes to yield, hygiene and convenience. To do this, FTNON employs a technology that uses permanent super magnetism, which eliminates the need for wires, tubes, belts and springs, and results in a machine with frictionless components, tremendously reducing the costs of maintenance.

The JBT FTNON Magnetic Onion Peeler

The JBT FTNON Magnetic Onion Peeler

“FTNON has done a great job – it’s a hygienic, easy-to-clean machine which has a food-safe onion peeler,” says Gill. “The magnetic part really simplifies it and makes it easier to clean.”

Crucially, Gill says the MOP 200 also helps achieve a 10-15% increase in yield, which he attributes to the ability of the equipment to deliver extremely precise levels of peeling.

“There’s going to be less labor and a higher yield: our two big costs and that’s going to add a lot to the bottom line,” Gill concludes.

Learn more about the JBT FTNON Magnetic Onion Peeler

Synutra France: how JBT PLF helped make ambitious project a reality

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Construction of Chinese infant formula supplier Synutra’s first operation in France was not only a big step forward for the company, but also for JBT PLF which played a key role in the project from initiation through to completion, as PLF’s Ian Hillaby recalls.

Ian Hillaby has been travelling back and forth between the UK and China for more than 25 years, making contact with key players in China’s powdered infant formula industry. It was on one of these trips, around 10 years ago, that Hillaby initially made contact with Synutra, a Chinese infant formula manufacturer in the Olympic sailing city of Qingdao, which at the time had little in the way of any presence outside the country. 

However, it was not until some five years later that the initial meeting would come to fruition. Remembering their meeting Synutra contacted PLF and Hillaby for advice on an ambitious new project: design and construction of a can making and filling line for their new €230 million manufacturing site in Brittany, France, the company’s first venture outside Chinese borders.

Above: a tour of the Synutra France facility (in French)

Turnkey solution
Brittany was chosen for entirely practical reasons. As a center for milk production in France, the region could provide a steady, reliable source of fresh milk for processing purposes.

PLF was involved at the greenfield site from the very start, advising on the installation of high-speed turnkey canning lines (at that time, almost all Chinese companies used low-speed lines) as part of what would eventually become one of the fastest infant formula lines in the world.

“PLF became involved as Synutra was looking for the ability to manufacture and fill cans, and we were able to offer a complete turnkey solution,” explains Hillaby. 

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Aided by PLF’s already strong reputation for project delivery in the infant powder industry, PLF and Synutra got round a table, as Hillaby recalls, and started looking at what the company was trying to achieve and specific non-conventional options, such as pre-gassing technology. A pioneer in this area, PLF offers a pre-gassing system before the powder reaches the filling line, which maintains a sealed, modified atmosphere from the start to the finished product. As a result, the powder is never exposed to the outside atmosphere before sealing is completed, adding an extra layer of security in the process.

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China expansion
“We took probably 6-8 months from that initial meeting to completing the project design, then another 12-15 months to build and install,” says Hillaby. “There was quite an intense element of guiding, so not only the customer learnt a lot during the process, but there was also a learning curve for PLF as well. But at the end of the day, we got the job done and it’s a fantastic reference for the industry.”

Of course there were challenges along the way, one of the biggest being dealing with Chinese legislation, but Hillaby says Synutra was very happy with the final results; results which have led to a greater involvement for PLF in China. “We’ve just shipped our first line to a local Chinese infant formula manufacturer and we are hopeful that by the end of this year we can confirm further lines for another of China’s major infant formula producers,” Hillaby adds. 

Click for more information about Synutra

Click for details of PLF’s full range of solutions

Perricone Farms: how JBT helped a California juice business go global

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California-based Perricone Farms is a success story that has been two decades in the making. Established in the 1990s by a renowned citrus grower and packer, the business has since become a leading juice processor and marketer, famed for the quality and provenance of its ingredients. JBT – as Perricone readily acknowledges – played a key role in the development and subsequent success of the business, helping the company improve its juice yield by 20% and acting as a partner in a fruitful relationship that continues to the present day.

Perricone Farms CEO Bob Rovzar has been well-placed to have witnessed the evolution of the Beaumont, California business since it first launched its juice processing venture almost two decades ago. The company’s initial contact with JBT came in the late 1990s under the leadership of JBT’s North America Director of Sales Donn Sabato who approached what Rovzar describes as “a little juice plant in Southern California”. “At that time, our plant paled in comparison to larger juice companies in the US, especially in the West,” recalls Rovzar. “But even in those early days, JBT always treated us as a valued customer and spent time with us. They were a valuable partner as we established the business.”

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Technical expertise
Perricone Farms as a juicing operation was first established by current managing director Joe Perricone’s father Sam; an industry icon who at the time was a large grower and packer of fresh citrus. The move into juice took place after Perricone acquired a small juicing company – and client of Perricone – that was struggling with financial difficulties.

The juicing business began in earnest with four JBT extractors, plus two non-JBT pieces of machinery – a piecemeal fruit unloading system and a used finisher. “JBT supplied technical expertise, explaining how we should be extracting and setting-up the machinery, as well how to get the maximum yield out of a plant that ran multiple varieties of fruit,” says Rovzar. The company, he recalls, also had a make-shift sizer that was jerry-rigged and made from spare parts.

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Market evolution
In its early days, Rozvar says Perricone was 90% focused on orange juice production, and although it remains important, as the market has evolved, so the company has developed a much broader base of juices. Orange juice today accounts for around 50% of Perricone’s production, with the other half sourced from lemons, limes, grapefruit and tangerines. These juices are sold to high-end restaurants and hotels, grocery retail under the Perricone Farms label or retailer owned brands, and to a lesser extent to foodservice distributors and food ingredients processors.

Although the majority of Perricone Farm’s juices are sold within the Western US, the company has begun in more recent times exporting to the Far East and some volumes to Mexico. “In California, the majority of fruit is destined for the fresh market, but because we are part of the Perricone family of companies, we have access to fruit in-season and also benefit from our close proximity to Mexico during the winter months,” says Rovzar.

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Leap forward
What has really helped Perricone make a commercial leap forward, says Rovzar, was a move into purpose-built new facility with considerable help and assistance from JBT. “With JBT’s help and support, we have been able to completely rebuild and redo our juice extraction operation without shutting down our existing extraction line,” he explains. “This has been important because we extract juice 365 days a year. 

“For several years, people on both side – JBT and Perricone – said the extraction line could not be replaced without shutting down the existing operation, but JBT found a way of running both lines simultaneously for a month while the new operation was put in place. Through JBT’s help, we were able to provide a seamless transition to our customers and we couldn’t have done it without the support, dedication and commitment we received from JBT, from the engineers right up to top management.”

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“The process works when the customer takes your information and implements the changes and or suggestions,” explained JBT’s Donn Sabato. “Perricone, to their credit, took the information we presented to them and put it into action under Bob and Joe’s leadership. This area is why Perricone has grown so dramatically in the last few years based on Joe and Bob’s leadership – they are action oriented and work their plan to fruition.”

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Surpassing forecasts
Moving into the new facility, Perricone implemented the new extraction line with JBT’s partnership and assistance, with the result that it far surpassed the original forecast. “We improved our yield by 15-20% compared with the original forecast 8-10%,” says Rovzar. “It allowed us to capitalize on being able to extract the fruit when it is available and to become competitively positioned in the market. Being able to extract 20% more juice means that we are now better able to satisfy our customer base with juice that was previously going to waste.”

Perricone today has eight extractors, two brand-new finishers and a sizer – all sourced from JBT. It is also investing in new JBT-supported fruit unloading system, which will provide substantial support on effectively handling fruit through to loading into tanks for processing. JBT has also helped establish a citrus oil recovery system at the plant. “We are optimistically looking at other opportunities for working together with JBT in the future,” adds Rovzar. “JBT is our first choice for working together.”

Learn more about Perricone Farms

Learn more about JBT’s juicing solutions

JBT and MexiFrutas: a fresh recipe for success

Leer este artículo en español

MexiFrutas, a leading mango pulp processor focused on global export markets, is one of JBT’s longest-standing customers in Mexico; a status which is no accident, according to MexiFrutas managing director Sergio Garcia. Since 2003, JBT has formed a key element in the ongoing MexiFrutas success story, providing solutions, equipment and support for the company during a period of sustained growth based on quality and a reputation for excellence.

MexiFrutas began life almost two decades ago with a small mango processing facility in the western, Pacific state of Nayarit. Fast forward 15 years and the company now boasts three processing sites – two in Nayarit and one in Chiapas – strategically placed to follow the annual Mexican mango season, starting in southern Mexico in Chiapas in late February, before moving north during the course of the year and finishing in early September. 

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Approximately 95% of MexiFrutas’ production is for international markets, shipping to a wide variety of destinations including the US, Canada, Europe, South and Central America, Japan, South Korea and even as far as Australia. A small percentage is also sold on the domestic market.

MexiFrutas’ working relationship with JBT also began back in 2003, establishing a very solid supplier-customer partnership that has continued to the present day, with all company sites featuring equipment and machinery 100% sourced from JBT.

“We started with one small processing plant, and now we have three plants that process mango pulp, which use 100% JBT equipment,” explains Sergio Garcia. “It has been a good relationship for both sides.”

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“MexiFrutas is in a sense married to JBT,” he continues. “As a company, we don’t like to take any risks in terms of the delicate machinery for a mango line producing processed pulp and JBT is very trustworthy. In fact, we have virtually never had any problems with product contamination or machinery failures, which is testament to the fact that the systems are well made and have effective safeguards against microbiological threats.”

But MexiFrutas has not only been working with JBT when it comes to processing mango pulp, it also collaborates closely JBT specialists in freezing and IQF products. 

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“JBT is a company that responds promptly whenever a problem might arise and provides solutions,” says Garcia. “We have great trust in JBT, trust which they have earned and which is reciprocal. It’s a successful relationship for both sides.”

MexiFrutas currently uses various JBT technologies at all three facilities, including de-pulping and finishing systems, enzymatic deactivation, evaporators, sterilizers and aseptic fillers. The company expects to purchase new JBT equipment to support their ambitious growth plan over the next 12-24 months.

“When we speak to a customer who is knowledgeable about mango pulping and we mention we use JBT equipment, there is an implicit recognition that you are using good systems for processing, and undoubtedly this gives confidence to our customers,” adds Garcia.

video ©MexiFrutas 2018

JBT y MexiFrutas: una receta natural para el éxito

Read this article in English

MexiFrutas, uno de los principales procesadores de pulpa de mango enfocado en los mercados mundiales de exportación, es uno de los clientes más antiguos de JBT en México, y haber alcanzado ese estatus no es ninguna coincidencia, según afirma el director general de MexiFrutas, Sergio García. Desde 2003, JBT ha jugado un papel fundamental en la continua historia de éxito de MexiFrutas, brindando a la empresa  soluciones, equipos y apoyo durante un periodo de crecimiento sostenido que tiene como cimientos la calidad y una reputación de excelencia.

MexiFrutas nació hace casi dos décadas siendo una pequeña planta de procesamiento de mango localizada en el occidental estado del Pacífico, Nayarit. Quince años después, la empresa cuenta con tres plantas procesadoras—dos en Nayarit y una en Chiapas—cuya ubicación estratégica les permite seguir la temporada anual del mango mexicano, comenzando en el sur de México, en Chiapas, a finales de febrero, antes de trasladarse al norte durante los meses siguientes y concluir a comienzos de septiembre. 

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Aproximadamente un 95% de la producción de MexiFrutas se destina a los mercados internacionales, haciendo embarques a una variedad de destinos entre los que se encuentran Estados Unidos, Canadá, Europa, Centro y Sudamérica, Japón, Corea del Sur, e incluso lugares tan remotos como Australia. Solo una pequeña fracción se vende en el mercado nacional.

La colaboración entre MexiFrutas y JBT también data de 2003, cuando establecieron una muy sólida alianza cliente-proveedor que ha perdurado hasta el día de hoy, en que todas las plantas de la empresa cuentan con equipamiento y maquinaría proveniente en su totalidad de JBT.

“Iniciamos con una pequeña planta procesadora y ahora somos tres plantas que procesan pulpa de mango utilizando en un 100% equipos de JBT”, explica Sergio García. “Ha sido una colaboración buena para ambas partes”.

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“MexiFrutas está de cierta manera casada con JBT”, prosigue. “Como empresa, no nos gusta arriesgarnos en cuestiones de la delicada maquinaria que se requiere para una línea de mango que produce pulpa procesada, y JBT es sumamente confiable. De hecho, prácticamente nunca hemos tenido problemas de contaminación de productos o fallas de la maquinaria, lo que demuestra que los sistemas están muy bien hechos y cuentan con medidas de protección efectivas en contra de amenazas microbiológicas”.

La colaboración entre MexiFrutas y JBT no se limita al procesamiento de pulpa de mango, también trabaja muy de la cerca con los especialistas de JBT especializados en congelación y productos IQF. 

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“JBT es una empresa que responde oportunamente cada vez que surge un problema y nos brinda soluciones”, explica García. “Confiamos plenamente en JBT, y esa confianza se la han ganado y además es recíproca. Es una relación de éxito para ambas partes”.

Mexifrutas actualmente utiliza una variedad de soluciones JBT en las tres plantas, incluyendo despulpadores y refinadores, evaporadores, esterilizadores, y llenadoras asépticas.

La empresa espera adquirir nuevo equipamiento de JBT para consolidar su ambicioso plan de crecimiento que contempla para los siguientes 12 a 24 meses.

“Si conversamos con un cliente conocedor de la extracción de pulpa de mango y mencionamos que utilizamos equipamiento JBT, existe un reconocimiento implícito de que estamos usando sistemas que son buenos para el procesamiento y, sin lugar a duda, esto les da confianza a nuestros clientes”, afirma García.

video ©MexiFrutas 2018

Pressed Juicery and JBT: a fresh success story

California-based Pressed Juicery is a business that has had a long association with JBT’s juicing range. Beginning first with two Fresh’n Squeeze machines at a modest facility in West Los Angeles, the company has experienced exponential growth in every year since its inception, and in the process has substantially expanded it’s juicing systems. In an exclusive article, Mike Stokes, Vice President of Operations at Pressed Juicery explains how Pressed Juicery’s relationship with JBT has been a key factor in its growth and success, and why the companies continue to work closely to the present day.

Pressed Juicery is a leading cold-pressed juice company with the mission of making high nutrition a realistic option for everyone. To do this, we make products that are delicious, nutritious, accessible, affordable and for everyone. Pressed Juicery started as a passion project born in a 22-square foot broom closet in West Los Angeles that was founded by three friends whose lives had all been positively impacted by the power of juice. Today, the brand has over 70 locations through California, New York, Nevada, Washington, Hawaii and Massachusetts, and offers national shipping to all 50 states.

Pressed Juicery’s products include cold-pressed juices; Freeze, a revolutionary soft serve made from just fruits, nuts and vegetables; functional 2 oz. shots; and Heat, a line of superfood lattes. The company’s products were created with their customers in mind, proving that health, great taste and affordability can all exist together.

Right partnership
Pressed Juicery’s relationship with JBT first began in the early days of the business. The company was growing rapidly and we needed to relocate into a larger manufacturing plant.

We were looking for a scalable process but it was also paramount to us to maintain our quality. It was imperative that we provide our customers with great-tasting, safe citrus juices.

This then triggered the manufacturing team to evaluate its current processes. We realized we needed a better method of juicing our citrus. In the current process we were peeling our citrus and then pressing them on a good nature press. The manufacturing team knew we wanted to go to a juice extractor but didn’t have enough volume.

Some of the manufacturing team members had previous experience with JBT and were confident this would be the right partnership to deliver the best product. We determined the Fresh’n Squeeze model would fit our needs.

CLICK HERE TO LEARN MORE ABOUT FRESH’N SQUEEZE

Ongoing support
When Pressed Juicery relocated its manufacturing plant to Central California we started with two Fresh’n Squeeze machines. We juiced our lemon, orange, grapefruit, lime, and blood oranges. This was a major upgrade from hand peeling every piece of citrus.

Pressed Juicery has experienced exponential growth since inception. As our business continued to expand and enter different markets we realized we needed to upgrade our Fresh’n Squeeze machines to a citrus extractor. We could no longer keep juicing on the small Fresh’n Squeeze machine to keep up with demand.

JBT has provided a level of expertise on the citrus side that has benefited the entire team. They have been able to support us throughout our journey and have provided guidance in ensuring our extraction equipment provides the best quality product. Their maintenance team has ensured our machine is running efficiently at all times. JBT touches many areas of our operations and it’s nice to have a single source for business discussions around our citrus processes.

We believe we have just scratched the surface with JBT. They are an innovative company that is paving the way in new processes, and our partnership will lead us to different projects around juicing. I believe as we continue to grow and expand JBT will be there as a resource to help us determine the best equipment for our operations.

Further information about Pressed Juicery, its range of products and ordering details can be found at pressedjuicery.com

Pure Spoon and Avure: How HPP helped baby food brand to mainstream success

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A unique aspect of the High Pressure Pasteurization (HPP) technology developed by JBT’s Avure business is that it can deliver an extended shelf life for liquid foods with a minimal impact on flavor, texture or nutritional content. Retaining a fresh taste and the maximum amount of nutrients has been crucial to the success of Pure Spoon, an innovative baby food brand whose HPP-pasteurized products can now be found on the shelves of top US grocery retailers, such as Whole Foods, Kroger and Walmart, and are available on line at Amazon.com, Jet.com, Amazonfresh.com and purespoon.com

When new mom and entrepreneur Alyson Eberle began initial planning for what would eventually become Pure Spoon, she found HPP offered a way of keeping the product as fresh as possible while maintaining the food’s all-important nutrients, giving Pure Spoon the ability to extend its product line of nutrient-packed purees across the US.

“Parents across the US are demanding fresher, better options for their babies, but don’t have time to make every meal at home,” Eberle explains. “I wanted to fill the massive gap between the nutrient-lacking, over-processed options available at the stores and the fresh meals I was making at home. But how do you keep the product fresh?”

Pure Spoon’s Alyson Eberle

Unique benefits
A newspaper article about High Pressure Pasteurization (HPP) technology first drew Eberle’s attention to the possibilities offered by HPP systems, which led her to make contact with Avure.

“Baby food hasn’t really changed since Gerber introduced it over 70 years ago,” she says. “The only innovation that has happened in that time is that manufacturers are putting it in pouches as well as jars, which I think is a minus because you can no longer see the food that your children are eating.

“Up until now, many manufacturers have been using high heat sterilization or pasteurization, which kills so much of the food – the flavor, the texture, the color, and most importantly the nutritional content – so when you are talking about babies, HPP made so much sense.”

LEARN MORE ABOUT HPP TECHNOLOGY

As Avure CEO, Jeff Williams, explains, HPP systems are unique in their focus on cold rather than hot pasteurization for liquid foods; a process that has almost no impact on taste or flavor.

HPP technology works by taking liquid foods contained in flexible packaging and subjecting them to cold water at extremely high pressures – 87,000 pounds per square inch or 6,000 BAR – which has the effect of inactivating pathogens, such as salmonella, listeria or E.coli.

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Understanding HPP
Support from Avure during Pure Spoon’s adaptation to HPP processes was a key element of the company’s success, says Eberle, who worked over a four-year period, full-time and part-time, during the genesis of the brand.

“Avure has been very helpful as they support entrepreneurs in expanding HPP in new categories,” she says. “They told me, let’s try it, this is what you need to be mindful of, and this what HPP can and cannot do. Having food experts who understand HPP on a micro level and what it can do for food means the technology can be applied to categories that haven’t seen HPP before.”

Of course, the process did not stop with pasteurization and Eberle explains that Pure Spoon has since spent considerable energy, time and money educating consumers about the benefits of HPP technology. “We have different ways of communicating depending on who our audience is, but the focus is on explaining to consumers how HPP allows us to lock in more flavor and, most importantly, more nutrition into the food.  And when you are feeding babies, that is critical,” Eberle adds.