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While 2020 and 2021 were dominated by the pandemic, 2022 represented a period of renewal and reinvigoration for JBT. Grow with JBT was our motto for 2022 and grow we did! We welcomed several new additions to the JBT family, including alco, and we launched OmniBlu™, the new AI-based platform for optimization and predictive maintenance, putting us in a better position than ever to grow together with our customers as a strategic longtime solutions partner.

But more importantly 2022 was the year when we were able to reconnect in person with customers again at trade events. JBT introduced a range of new automation and process optimization solutions, all designed to help customers grow their business with JBT, with the emphasis on achieving greater efficiencies and yield while at the same time growing productivity and profits.

Looking back on the past 12 months, Anders Lassing, President of JBT Protein EMEA, says that the year also brought more than its fair share of challenges. Although the easing of Covid restrictions brought JBT and customers back together to exchange ideas and build personal relations, the Russian invasion of Ukraine in February 2022 led to market turbulence with rising inflation and a sharp increase in energy prices.

Significant challenges for the food industry, which emerged during this period and are predicted to continue into 2023, are market uncertainty, cost increases, and staff shortages.

JBT, continues Lassing, can help customers meet these challenges with solutions for automation, energy efficiency, reduced water consumption, and sustainability. “We can meet the needs of those looking to power their equipment with alternative energy sources like electricity to avoid high gas prices,” he says.

New merge and digital transformation
In particular, Lassing singles out two major developments that will make a real difference for customers in the 12 months ahead. The addition of alco’s wide range of food production equipment complements and extends JBT solutions exceptionally well, and offers significant synergies.

“The merger makes us a much more comprehensive supplier for our customers,” Lassing reveals. “Together with alco, we can better match customer needs and deliver complete integrated solutions for every stage, from raw materials to the finished product. The customer only needs to contact JBT to get a complete line; we are a One-Stop-Shop.”

The acquisition of alco forms an essential part of JBT’s objective to become a strategic and long-term solutions partner to customers. Another vital part of this is OmniBlu, JBT’s new digital platform. OmniBlu, explains Lassing, is a set of digital tools that complements JBT’s already existing competencies.

“With our new solutions for connected machines, we can predict maintenance but also optimize resource consumption,” he says. “Focusing on using resources and energy in a well-thought-out way is becoming increasingly important for our customers. It is an area where we already have many solutions, both products and improvements.

“With OmniBlu, we can offer our customers additional opportunities to minimize consumption of electricity, gas, water, and chemicals for cleaning.”

In addition, Lassing says OmniBlu makes it easier for customers to order spare parts directly from JBT; an option which can help customers achieve more planned – rather than unplanned – maintenance. “OmniBlu will provide customers with unmatched visibility of their operation and a powerful tool to maximize their uptime and machine performance, and we look forward to further developing it in a strategic partnership with our customers,” he adds.

2023 predictions
What developments can we expect to see in 2023? Lassing says plant-based foods segment is likely to continue to grow despite a recent dip because of inflation. “The segment is still developing, and producers are testing which proteins are best to use, which processes are most appropriate and which products are most acceptable to consumers,” he says. “Here, we can help food producers find the right methods and processes through our Food Tech Centers in Sweden and the UK.”

With the acquisition of alco, he adds, JBT has also gained a Food Tech Center in Germany, which offers an essential service and development center, especially for start-ups that don’t have their own testing facilities.

Another significant trend that Lassing identifies for 2023 is the growth in sales of low-cost, highly-processed products as consumers seek to cut down on expenses due to inflation.

Here, Lassings says JBT can help thanks to innovative technologies and the knowhow needed to set -up production lines that will deliver high yields combined with low energy consumption and high throughput. In this way, he emphasizes, producers can keep their margins on a healthy level, even when producing highly-processed food. JBT, Lassing adds, also offer flexible equipment so producers can quickly adapt when trends change.

“By being quick-footed and responsive to our customer’s needs in all sectors, we will be there for them right down the line and develop new intelligent solutions during 2023 and beyond,” Lassing concludes.