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SPX FLOW Helps Yogurt Producers Ramp Up With Efficient Processes, Dependable Machinery

As the appetite for yogurt continues to increase, so does the demand for equipment to process it. More than ever, makers of commercial yogurt, kefir, and related products need machinery they can depend on for extended use—and SPX FLOW is a leader in providing high-quality and innovative solutions.

Demand Still Trending Upward

There’s no denying the trend of higher yogurt consumption. Just when you’d think sales might have reached a saturation point, along came the Greek yogurt craze. Not only is it still going strong, it has also driven sales for related dairy products, including smoothies, frozen yogurt, cream cheese, butter, salad dressings, dips, and spreads.

Perhaps fed up after years of low-fat diets, Americans developed a strong appetite for rich, creamy Greek yogurt starting in about 2010. That’s part of the reason yogurt consumption has more than doubled over the past decade. Almost a third of the United States population now eats yogurt of one kind or another, according to consumer research by the NPD Group.

Retail sales of yogurt in the U.S. will approach $9.3 billion by 2017, up from $7.3 billion in 2012, according to the NPD report. Though Greek is the most popular kind, children’s yogurt has also gained a wide following.

Health-conscious parents account for the children’s category. But who’s eating so much Greek yogurt? Market research shows the usual suspects—women who were already yogurt eaters and switched to Greek. But bucking with tradition and adding to sales, men also started eating it, responding to marketing promoting it as a sports nutrition product.

More Dairy Products Means More Process Equipment — and Innovation

As sales of yogurt and related dairy products rise, more process equipment and parts are needed to produce them. The number of plants producing yogurt in the US grew by 50 percent in a dozen years, from 80 in the year 2000 to 131 in 2012. Some of the new plants plan to expand capacity and push into new geographical territories.

SPX FLOW is ready to handle the demand. The company has years of hands-on experience in the yogurt industry and has developed sophisticated processes to help producers achieve greater efficiencies and reduced costs.

A leading provider of innovative process equipment in yogurt and other fermented dairy products, SPX FLOW operates advanced Innovation Centers that have led the development of major projects in the field. Its cutting-edge yogurt processing equipment, customized designs, and installation expertise make it a trusted partner of some of the most successful yogurt brands in the business.

“Our dairy and food technologists are constantly focusing on innovative customer-centric solutions,” said Bent Oestergaard, director of global marketing for SPX FLOW Food and Beverage.

New Technologies and New Ingredients

The company also helps customers produce ingredients for yogurt and other fermented dairy products. Its Cheasly™ concept is based on recombined powder formulations that can be integrated with liquid or concentrated milk or whey components.

The SPX process systems include all equipment from milk intake to the filling machine, and the company also partners with some filling line providers. SPX FLOW helps customers develop and produce a wide variety of yogurts, from spoonable or “set” types to high-protein yogurts, desserts, yogurt ingredients and a wide range of extended-shelf-life yogurt beverages.

The company’s new APV Cavitation™ technology offers especially attractive opportunities in yogurt processing. The Cavitator has demonstrated superior results in smoothing of Greek yogurt, eliminating the grainy structure that is often an undesirable outcome in the high-protein product.

Efficiency and Waste Reduction in Yogurt Processing

One of the reasons yogurt producers turn to SPX FLOW is its unique processes for recovery and waste reduction, which lower effluent costs while preserving as much viable product as possible in the “set yogurt” process. Some examples include:

  • "Pigging" systems to maximize the amount of usable yogurt removed from pipes
  • Proprietary software programs to minimize water use
  • Membrane concentration systems to preserve byproducts for recycling or sale
  • Built-in waste reduction at plants
  • State-of-the-art monitoring and automation

Working with raw milk is a tricky and potentially dangerous process. It requires great precision to achieve the optimal growth of lactic acid bacteria necessary for quality yogurt, and at every stage of the process, SPX uses best practices developed through years of experience.

For high-protein Greek yogurt, ultrafiltration, which offers high yield and flexibility compared to separation technology, is becoming the preferred separation technology. An upstream UF pre-concentration prior to acidification enables a significant reduction of acid permeate or whey, and converts it instead to a valuable, sweet by-product that can be used for powdered milk standardization.

After the yogurt is processed and poured into containers, it must be incubated at the right fermentation temperature and left untouched. Temperature and air circulation must be rigorously and continually controlled. Cooling needs to be done fairly quickly to stop the fermentation process, but it must also be slow enough to avoid wheying.

Some types of yogurt can be cooled collectively in a large room, but others require individual pallets with separate cooling controls. Transferring these pallets after cooling is a delicate process—vibrations will destroy the quality.

A Commitment to Excellence

SPX FLOW offers many products and solutions for in the dairy industry, including leading-brand components by WCB, APV, Gerstenberg Schroeder, Anhydro and others.

For yogurt making, its PMO-compliant mix proof valves have helped companies simplify installation and reduce the amount of equipment that needs to be cleaned, inspected and maintained. The valves reduce the need to maintain connections to separate valve groups for product flow and cleaning-in-place systems. The result is an overall smoother plant operation, with less time spent on maintaining equipment.

It’s just one example of SPX FLOW’s commitment to excellence in dairy processing and plant design.