Trouw Nutrition USA Neosho, Missouri plant wins 2016 Feed Facility of the Year
22 April 2017
Premix Manufacturer Category Winner and the Overall Winner in the 2016 Feed Facility of the Year
"Consumers consider their pets their children – they expect baby food quality products at pet food prices. The slightest mistake in our production could impact hundreds of tons of cat and dog food," says Doug Vanjoff, manager of the Neosho plant in Missouri (USA). This is why a commitment to continuous improvement and excellence in the manufacturing process is a key operational philosophy at the plant.
At the Neosho plant, Trouw Nutrition USA produces pet food premixes for premium and super premium pet food companies in the USA. Doug: "These are accurately balanced blends of vitamins and minerals that provide the nutritional integrity of our customers' brands." The facility has been named the Premix Manufacturer Category Winner and the Overall Winner in the 2016 Feed Facility of the Year competition, a national contest conducted by the American Feed Industry Association (AFIA) and Feedstuffs.
Focused on fundamentals
Neosho focuses on the fundamentals of the Nutrace Feed-to-Food Strategy, which is implemented by the Nutreco corporate quality director. "There are a number of key elements in that strategy for ensuring quality and food safety standards," notes Tom Best, Director of Health, Safety, Environment and Quality at Trouw Nutrition USA.
"First, the third party certification ensures that the administration of quality and food safety standards meets the demands of the quality scheme. Then, ingredient and supplier assessments ensure the integrity of the supply chain. Based on that assessment, monitoring and controls are implemented to assure that the ingredients meet quality requirements. The fourth pillar is risk management, which encompasses a structured plan for handling any major incident that could arise."
All of the Trouw Nutrition USA manufacturing facilities, including Neosho, are required to have an extensive track and trace system. Tom: "This final step, Nutrace, acts as a checkpoint for monitoring exactly what is in the premixes, where they are being distributed and who is being impacted whenever a problem arises."
A leader in innovation and quality assurance
When, in 2007, a worldwide recall involving melamine-contaminated pet food was required, the entire pet food industry was impacted. Fortunately, Trouw Nutrition USA was not involved, but most of their customers were. Tom: "We helped our customers tackle the problems that ensued, including further raising the standards that our products and production methods have to meet. The Neosho plant is now a world leader when it comes to innovation and quality assurance. Supply chain integrity is a key focus. It's our job to ensure ingredients are pet food ready."
Product safety and hygiene are crucial. "When we transition to different types of premixes, the equipment must be flushed to thoroughly clean the system," Tom says.
"We have to minimalize carryover of ingredients from one mix to the other. We regularly perform studies to measure the proficiency of our process. Our procedures are meticulous and they ensure that we perform the protocols exactly the same way each and every time."
"We try to diminish human element," plant manager Doug Vanjoff adds. "This is why our production process is highly automated and computer controlled. It helps us to minimize the risk of mistakes."
Part of the Nutreco family
Owned by BASF before being acquired by Nutreco in 2007, the Neosho facility has enjoyed more than $3 million in upgrades since then, offering a flex facility for Trouw Nutrition USA, meaning that while it primarily produces companion animal mixes, it is also capable of producing product for the livestock division when needed.
The facility has grown to become a key component of the Nutreco family in the USA. "At Nutreco, we learn from one another and share best practices," says Tom. "Neosho has many great operational programmes in place, and Trouw Nutrition USA has benefited greatly from annual international meetings where global health, safety, environment and quality managers discuss the latest developments. Neosho is a great example of a team that is focused on continuous improvement. They are open to new development opportunities from various sources, and they set the example for all to follow."
In the USA, pet food production falls under heavy public scrutiny. Doug: "Consumers are now 'pet parents', and they consider their pets their children. They expect baby food quality products at pet food prices." This is why Trouw Nutrition USA is so innovative within Nutreco with regard to quality and food safety.
Culture of quality and responsibility
Although production is highly automated, employees at the Neosho plant have an essential role too. Doug: "In the end, it's the staff that makes the plant unique. The corporate culture is hugely positive, and everyone who works here knows how important their role is to the overall quality of the product."
"We have an extensive training programme that keeps our people on their toes", says Doug. "All of the staff is able to take on any task. This universal worker concept makes us flexible – and it also means the work is varied, which is good for motivation and morale. So it's hardly surprising that many employees have a long tenure with the company."