Concerns over food safety and environmental issues are convincing more meat processing operations to weigh up the benefits of investment in stainless-steel conveying systems, resulting in a "busy and extremely encouraging" IFFA for Sandvik Process Systems.
The company, producer of stainless-steel belt conveyors, recorded unprecedented interest at the fair as the meat industry looks for ways to improve hygiene and reduce risk of contamination.
While plastic belts require a lower initial investment, stainless steel is easier to clean and scientifically proven to be more hygienic. As well as reducing risk of bacterial growth, this also reduces consumption of water and chemicals in the cleaning process.
"Our participation at IFFA confirmed that there’s real market interest in upgrading to stainless-steel conveyor belts," says Fabio Conti, global product manager, food at Sandvik. "The number of genuine enquiries we received exceeded all our expectations and we’re confident that this is down to increased awareness of the hygienic properties of our belts."
Steel belts were the default conveying solution throughout much of the 20th century but lost market share with the arrival of low-cost plastic alternatives. This trend is now beginning to show signs of reversing as legislation focuses on driving up hygiene standards.
"Food safety is and will remain the number one reason for upgrading to a steel belt," says Conti, "but there are others. We found that many IFFA visitors were also looking to reduce the environmental impact of their operations, so the ability to clean faster and more efficiently was another reason to look more closely at steel belt technology."