Mrs. Gerry’s Kitchen, based in Albert Lea, Minnesota, the USA, included with the latest expansion of the company, a new steam peeling line technology from Tomra Sorting Food, the Orbit 350.
The decision allowed the company to expand its ‘Ready to Eat Refrigerated Entrees’ range. Today, Mrs. Gerry’s salads and mashed potato products are sold across the US and can be found in grocery stores, restaurants, universities, healthcare facilities and more.
Chad Vogt, CEO at Mrs. Gerry’s, says: “Our mission is to provide superior and consistently safe products built on a strong foundation of faith, family and quality while providing our customers with the highest levels of service. Over the past 43 years, our company has expanded in numerous ways and now sells more than 35 million lbs (15.9 million kg) of food each year. Mrs. Gerry’s operates from a 214,500 sq. ft. (20,000 sqm) facility in Southern Minnesota and employs more than 200 people.”
Mrs. Gerry’s has faced two challenges as the company has grown: firstly, keeping pace with the increasing steam capacity required to produce sufficient quantities of its products to meet demand, and secondly, running out of production capacity. More than 120 different products including its ‘Original Potato Salad’ - the recipe that started it all in 1973 - are now produced by the business.
Vogt says: “We spent six months researching various peeling solutions for our processing line and toured manufacturing facilities to evaluate steam consumption data before choosing TOMRA’s machines to fulfill our requirements.”
TOMRA’s technical team visited the manufacturing facility in Albert Lea to see first-hand the challenges and requirements of the customer. Following a process audit and an efficiency test of the existing solution, it became clear that peeling efficiency, steam supply and consumption could be improved.
Vogt adds: “We are very familiar with the innovative solutions manufactured by TOMRA, as we have been using their steam peeling machines since 2001, and we recently purchased TOMRA’s Orbit 350 peeler with OBD 6/20 brusher and M01 steam accumulator, as part of our expansion plans.”
Productivity into growth
“The Orbit peeler is able to process large quantities of produce with a shorter cycle time, while also reducing steam usage, which has led to significant increases in productivity and the reduction of energy costs. We know that we are now using less steam than before and the machine also provides improvements in the uniformity of peeling, which can help to reduce waste.”
The Orbit peeler uses innovative technology to carefully monitor and send information to the machine’s control panel, ensuring the lowest steam times and the reduction of peel loss to minimal levels.
Vogt concludes: “Shorter cycle times and increased productivity give us the opportunity to focus on continuing to grow our existing business and securing new customers through the development of new product ranges, while maintaining our reputation for high-quality products and remaining profitable. The equipment is very user-friendly and we are proud to be utilizing the latest technologies to increase efficiency and ensure every product has the highest quality, flavor and value for our customers.”