Food technology provider GEA's range of equipment is playing a major part in helping a manufacturer of vegetarian and vegan convenience foods to diversify and expand into new markets, supplying retailers across Europe.
Vivera offers an extensive selection of vegan and vegetarian products, ranging from meat and fish mimics through to vegetable-based burgers and bites. As one of the biggest producers of plant-based products in Europe, it is vital for the company's processing equipment supplier to be flexible and totally reliable.
First established in 1990, Dutch company Vivera quickly built up a strong working relationship with GEA, which has now been it's technology provider for more than 30 years. With its rich Dutch heritage, the GEA Food Solutions unit, previously known as Convenience Food Systems (CFS) has developed a partnership with Vivera which has gone from strength to strength to produce high quality vegetarian and vegan products ever since. Over the years, Vivera has been supplied with equipment for a variety of processes and is currently trialling GEA's forming equipment, with a view to creating an entirely seamless production line comprised solely of GEA technology.
Erik Tempelman, Process Technologist at Vivera has credited GEA's food processing machinery as a key factor in the company's spectacular growth, which has been listed as one of the top three meat alternative producers in Europe and the number one brand in its country of origin, the Netherlands. Vivera products are available in all major retailers across the UK, the Netherlands and much of Europe and the company is planning to heavily expand its production capacity and business within the next 5 years.
Try before you buy
Based at GEA Food Solutions in Bakel, the Netherlands, the GEA Technology Centre has also proved instrumental in the success of developments at Vivera. Prospective and existing customers are encouraged by GEA to trial new products and equipment at the centre before making any investment. The making of emulsions, for use in Vivera's products for example, was perfected through trials there, with Tempelman commenting that “They have helped us test new machines until we were confident that all was well.”
Looking to the future
Looking ahead, Vivera expects to continue taking full advantage of all the GEA Technology Centre has to offer, as it grows, and consumer demand for an increasingly varied range of vegan and vegetarian products grows with it. As well as this, current world events and financial cycles are predicted to cause significant disruption to global supply chains. Many of the company's products use wheat and as commodity prices rise and supplies become disrupted, new sources must be found. “These new products will all have to be tested,” explained Tempelman, and GEA has a broad range of equipment available to meet diverse processing needs.
“We deliver great products and our customers are happy,” said Tempelman. “My job is to make sure we do that as efficiently as possible, with the minimum of wastage. GEA helps me do that every day and our relationship is becoming stronger and stronger.”
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