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Food Marketing & Technology 1/2022

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  • February
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Please find numerous articles, product news and interesting event reports relevant to the food industry in this latest issue. This trade magazine is published in English only.

Cover Story Renowned

Cover Story Renowned Dutch Veal Producer Invests in New Thermoformers The company Ekro in Apeldoorn (NL), part of the VanDrie Group, is a renowned producer of veal. At the business park along highway A1, approximately 400,000 calves are processed into high-quality meat products every year, which are mainly distributed in Germany, France and Italy. In 2020, Ekro made significant investments in its packaging department, resulting in four new thermoformer lines. We spoke with Christian Scholten, Project Manager a.i. at Ekro, and Anjo Kaatman, Head of Technical Service within the company, about the recent installation of these lines and the challenges such a project entails. High-quality veal with attention to the animal What once started as a municipal slaughterhouse in the center of Apeldoorn is now an ultramodern production company on the outskirts of the city with approximately 750 employees. Ekro works in two shifts per day on the tastiest veal products. The new building at its current location along highway A1 was constructed in 1989, not long after the company was incorporated by the Van Drie family. Today, the VanDrie Group includes Dutch companies such as ESA and T. Boer & zn, but also Sobeval and Tendriade in France. ‘When you ask for veal, we serve a concept’, that is the starting point of Ekro. The company supplies highquality veal products all over the world that are tailored to the wishes of the customer, such as whole veal Christian Scholten shows the packaged product Flexible film vacuum packaging protects during storage and transport breast or veal roulade for the catering industry, but also consumer products such as veal burgers or steaks. Animal welfare, food safety and sustainability are of utmost importance. This means that Ekro’s products fully meet the contemporary requirements of discerning chefs and consumers. All employees, but also each supplier of the calves, work continuously to improve animal health and welfare. Full traceability Veal is an appreciated delicacy due to its fine structure, high nutritional value and subtle taste. It is easy to digest, low in cholesterol and rich in vitamins and minerals. That is why the product is widely used and highly valued in international kitchens. Ekro works with traditional wholesalers, retailers, food service and food manufacturers. Orders range from the delivery of complete carcasses to the delivery of kitchen-ready consumer products. 6 food Marketing & Technology • February 2022

Cover Story Christian Scholten, Project Manager at Ekro: “What makes Ekro unique is the quality we deliver. Our company is part of a complete chain, from the feeding of the calves to the packaged end product. In addition, Ekro has been committed to traceability for several decades. The abattoir and deboning section are equipped with hightech hardware and software, which connect seamlessly to each other, so that full tracking and tracing of the products is guaranteed. For example, the customers of Ekro, primarily the wholesaler, can always enter the stated barcode for each product on a special website to view the complete life cycle of the meat.” Impossible to break As Head of Technical Service, Anjo Kaatman is responsible for Ekro’s existing machinery. Within the company’s Project Office, Christian Scholten, together with four other colleagues, is constantly working on renewal processes in the broadest sense of the word. Recently, both men worked together in a large investment project in the packaging department of Ekro. The aim was to modernize a number of existing lines, so that they could work even more efficiently. For example, the same thermoformer has been used since 1999 for packaging the by-products, especially organs. This machine, an RE3, was once purchased from the company Repak B.V. in Emmen (NL), Anjo Kaatman, Head of Technical Service within Ekro Christian Scholten, Project Manager a.i. at Ekro a Dutch family business, just like the VanDrie Group. There is a great anecdote about the installation of the RE3. At the time, the machine was delivered by truck and brought to its destination in one piece on wheels. However, it turned out that there suddenly was a wall that had not yet been there at the time of purchase. With two colleagues quicky gathered from Emmen, the RE3 was taken apart and put back together in the right place, so that it could still be installed over the weekend. Since 1999, the line has been running 16 hours a day, where cleaning takes place every evening and maintenance is done twice a year. Anjo Kaatman: “The RE3 has always functioned without problems in our challenging production environment until the end of 2021.” The importance of good maintenance The RE-series thermoformers are still built in Emmen, but since 2007 they have been offered in the Benelux under the brand name SEALPAC. The advice, sales and maintenance are done by Ultrapak B.V. in Nijkerk, the exclusive distributor for SEALPAC thermoformers and traysealers in the Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg. Anjo Kaatman: “We have had an exceptionally good relationship with Ultrapak from the start. They take their responsibility and meet the set deadlines, also with regard to the agreed service contracts. Installation of new machines, but also the maintenance of existing machines, must take place with us during the weekend. The requirement is then that the machines have to be running again on Monday morning at 6.00 am, and that has always been successful so far.” With the RE3 in use for more than 20 years, and a number of other lines that could use a facelift, the inevitable question of replacement came in 2020. food Marketing & Technology • February 2022 7

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