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From soft baked and cold-formed to grain-free or potato-based, Hampshire Pet Products is increasing their pet food production complexity. COO Julie Larsen emphasizes the need to “increase the amount of monitoring that we do and the science that supports our bakers’ decision-making.”
According to Todd Dunlop, Director of Quality Assurance and R&D, pet food production is simple. What’s hard is making the treats consistently, to spec, every time.
“We were used to getting reports on products that had already been run and packaged, where there was nothing we could do to change the outcome,” Dunlap says.
Together with Aqualab, the team at Hampshire Pet Products can measure water activity and moisture content in raw materials on receipt tracks dough temperature, retake both measurements after the baking step, and perform a final water activity and moisture content check on finished goods.
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As Hampshire describes their experience with Aqualab, making water activity measurements after baking lets them evaluate before we go to the dryer. This has “benefits we didn’t see when we used moisture content. It lets us make adjustments at the dryer to reduce our scrap and increase yield."
SKALA’s environmental monitoring has also allowed Hampshire to account for seasonal impacts. Previously having summer and winter run parameters, now they can measure temperature and relative humidity to control based on actual conditions. SKALA records the parameters linked to a successful product, to refine future production process through data.
“Before we asked, ‘Can we release this product or not?’ Now we ask ‘How can we improve our process, how can we set parameters during the process to make sure we’re running within specification through the whole process, and we know in time to make changes?’."