Demand for prepared food is growing so when pitching for a major national contract you know that every dollar needs to count. It’s a fiercely competitive market so decisions on capital investment can be the key to gaining an advantage over your competitors. 

Gold Creek Foods, one of the USA’s largest full-service chicken processors, supplies foodservice and retail chains with a variety of breaded and roasted products. Demonstrating commitment to supplying high quality prepared products it chose long-standing technology partner GEA to provide the equipment needed for two new production lines. 

The carefully considered decision to invest in machinery from a trusted supplier and boost throughput at its plant near Atlanta, was taken with an eye on the future. Gold Creek now has the flexibility and additional capacity to continue to grow and expand further in multiple markets, especially where value added products are concerned.

Previous experience of a GEA’s solutions and a proven track record in the breaded poultry sector, was a crucial factor for Gold Creek. To date the company has purchased two CookStar 1000 GEN 3 ovens, multiple MultiDrum breaders, and two freezers. These are rolling out universally popular chicken products such as nuggets, fillets, patties, and wings. 

Explaining why GEA was chosen, Don Dubnik, vice president of operations at Gold Creek who has over 30 years’ experience in the industry, says the company prides itself on investing money wisely so confidence in its suppliers is vital.

“GEA provides a lot of technical expertise and processing knowledge as well as ticking all the boxes for after sales service and equipment which is efficient and easy to operate and maintain. This was a major capital investment and I’ve not been disappointed. I’ve been very impressed with how its performed. The MultiDrum breaders deployed in our business I believe are the best on the market. They do a tremendous job, spreading the product across the full width of the belt. This enables us to run boneless wings with reduced labor which can be deployed on more productive tasks," Dubnik said. 

MultiDrums create the homestyle texture coating that Gold Creek wants, while achieving high productivity, consistent quality, and maximum uptime. The machines can be recharged with breadcrumbs without stopping and production lines can be switched quickly—another automated operation that takes away the more mundane labor tasks. 

The products are cooked in GEA’s CookStar GEN 3 ovens, a highly accurate piece of technology which cooks each product on the line evenly and rapidly without drying out the product. This means that juiciness is retained. The CookStar GEN 3 uses combined horizontal and vertical hot airflow in a patented impingement zone, for an even distribution of airflow across the width of the belt so that all products are rapidly and equally cooked at the same time. The two-direction airflow also reduces overall cooking time, allowing for increased throughput. 

Gold Creek’s employees also benefit from GEA’s CookStar master class, which is designed to help operators understand, and get the best out of the technology, as well as a after-sales service program to keep the lines running at their peak around the clock. GEA’s team of experts is available to share knowledge via telephone conversations, video calls, and in-person if needed.

Delivering high quality products while increasing yield and managing labor is crucial for Gold Creek. Dubnik says of the CookStar: “With both towers and the impingement section in the middle, we’re able to deliver very high yielding breaded products with a crispy outside and juicy inside. The entire cooking process is quicker than traditional processes and results in more succulent chicken with a more attractive, richly browned color.”


Freezing out the competition

Completing the line-up are two freezers. What should food manufacturers be looking for from freezing equipment? Well, the key drivers being stringent hygienic requirements, high product quality and yield, minimum energy consumption, and effective frost management for long operating times—all boxes ticked again, says Dubnik.

“The reliability of the freezers is outstanding. They are very low maintenance, very hygienic, and easy to clean.” 

As Gold Creek continues to grow and expand, the company expects to collaborate further with GEA. Staying at the forefront of technology and increasing the use of automation will provide the cost-effective quality and capacity the company needs to remain competitive.

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Source: Gold Creek Foods