On 13 June 2015, a record 108 guests from 43 companies came to GEA’s Wuqing factory in China for the Slice & Pack and Homestyle & Bone-in Poultry applications seminar. GEA’s seminars have a strong reputation worldwide as an ideal way to gain hands-on experience, and this one was particularly ground-breaking as it addressed two distinct groups of customers: processed poultry products producers and producers of sliced and packaged products. To cover this diverse group, two parallel sessions were held. With the product and applications experts from European GEA sites providing the applications and equipment expertise, and local GEA personnel providing simultaneous translations, language barriers were easily overcome.

Bringing homestyle products into Chinese homes
As Chinese consumers look beyond their established culinary traditions for ways of preparing food, there is a growing demand from food producers for know-how. One such trend is homestyle chicken, a crispy breaded poultry product that in the past has been difficult to reproduce authentically on an industrial scale. Fortunately, the recently introduced GEA MultiDrum coating solution re-creates the bite, texture and taste of homestyle cooking, and the demonstration of this machine was one of the seminar highlights. Not only does this machine capture authentic homestyle cooking, but it also reduces the manpower needed to operate the line.

Adding value to bone-in poultry
Adding value to bone-in and skin-on poultry product is another area where GEA innovates. Poultry is one of the most popular meats in China, so anything that boosts yield and quality while also cutting process time is welcome. There was a two-part presentation to cover this, with the part one dealing with adding value to bone-in and skin-on poultry products by using highly controlled brine injection in combination with tumbling. This approach overcomes the shortcomings of tumbling only, such as excessively wet products, poor brine take-up, skin slip and long batch times. The second part dealt with high yield roasting of bone-in products in the GEA CookStar. Bjarne Lyngoe and Luuc van Lankveld presented these poultry and roasting applications with the language support of Kang Mingxu.

Increasing demand for sliced products
For the second group, Armin Teutsch, Head of Product Sales Management for GEA Packaging/Slicing, had the support of George Li for translation to present the latest developments in slicing and packaging. There is a growing trend for consumers to choose sliced products on supermarket shelves. The GEA Slicer portfolio, and in particular the UniSlicer and MegaSlicer, match the operational requirements of most sliced product producers. In combination with GEA Checkweighers, not only do they reduce give away but also minimize the manual work required on a slicing line. As sliced portions need to be transported into the packaging machine, various loading systems were also presented and supported by videos showing the working principles of GEA slicers and loading systems. 

Fast and efficient packaging solutions for food applications
The main focus of the packaging part was on the GEA PowerPak, a thermoformer packaging machine that is locally produced in the GEA factory in Wuqing. In addition to the classic vacuum pack, there are also options for MAP packs and thinner rigid films for sliced products available on this machine. The group also visited the plant’s Technology Center for live demonstration of a GEA UniSlicer, a loading unit and the GEA PowerPak thermoformer in a packaging line that sliced and packaged actual products. During the workshop, three PowerPak thermoformers in different stages of production were on display to show the high quality of local assembly and production.

Providing a complementary perspective
As is the tradition for GEA seminars, a guest speaker provided a complementary perspective, and this time Ryo Asanaka from packaging material supplier Sumitomo Bakelite updated the group on developments in films and materials. He supported his presentation with a diverse range of sample packages.

Positive reactions
To close the day, both groups were given a guided tour of the factory and enjoyed a dinner together. The reactions from attendees were positive, as not only were they already asking for a date for the next GEA seminar, but much of the equipment in the Wuqing Technology Center could have been sold on the day! In the weeks after the seminar, companies interested in GEA equipment were visited for more detailed discussions. William Wu, Sales Director of GEA Food Solutions China said, “The success was achieved by teamwork between European and Chinese colleagues. Seminars are ideal for motivating, networking and re-enforcing relationships.”

For more information, visit www.gea.com.