Food & Beverage Technology Club

Food & Beverage Technology Club event with Jacques Crahay, CEO COSUCRA

On 1 October, the Food & Beverage Technology Club welcomed Jacques Crahay, CEO of COSUCRA, and Bernard Castermant, Operations Manager. They spoke to the club members about the technological challenges faced by the company: “The demands to contain costs, speed up the time-to-market for new products and comply with global regulations are all placing huge amounts of pressure on the food processing industry. As such, reducing inefficiencies across the supply chain has become paramount.” This is a brief report of the event.


COSUCRA develops and produces natural food ingredients sourced from locally grown chicory and peas. The company has 300 employees at three production sites. COSUCRA not only supplies, they also partner clients, providing market and technology expertise, extensive clinical research and assistance with the regulatory context. COSUCRA works with more than 400 food manufacturers who use their ingredients in more than 1000 products all over the world.

Technical challenges at COSUCRA

1. Improving production

Food manufacturing is arguably one of the most difficult types of manufacturing. "Consistency is key, which requires well-designed and controlled operations and processes. Add to that the extra cleanliness and safety required to maintain food safety, and you’ve got a complex production environment."

“Optimising line efficiency and maintaining high levels of profitability is important” says Jacques Crahay. “There are many factors to be taken into account when optimising, including improving operations, processes, equipment, productivity, automation, technology, safety, training and more.”

2. New packaging line at the pea processing plant (in progress)

"The demands to contain costs, speed up the time-to-market for new products and comply with global regulations are all placing huge amounts of pressure on the food processing industry. As such, reducing inefficiencies across the supply chain has become paramount. This has led to ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) becoming increasingly vital and for many companies, as they transform their packaging operations. Yet, as the implementation of ERP technology can be complex, many have shied away from its use."

3. Optimisation of production

"An efficient quality management process during packaging helps to eliminate the risk of recalls or product wastage. A closed-loop quality management process is enabled by MES (Manufacturing Execution Systems), as it brings a new level of flexibility and control across the organisation. The collection of real-time data allows issues to be managed alongside the packaging process, meaning problems are managed promptly in a streamlined and efficient manner."

4. Optimisation of maintenance management

"Like most asset-intensive industries, the food and beverage industry is reliant on the uptime of revenue-producing assets. Minimising equipment downtime allows companies to realise greater levels of production from their equipment. This is where maintenance plays a key role in the bottom line.

By maximizing asset performance through effective processes and tools, food and beverage organisations can control costs and meet distinct maintenance requirements."

5. Implementation of Sales & Operations Planning (S&OP) (ongoing)

"Food manufacturers are under pressure to increase sales and preserve margins despite demand and supply volatility. They need to quickly develop an optimised supply plan and integrate that plan with customer opportunities in real time. Conventional S&OP falls short of these requirements.

In order to maximise margins, companies need three key elements in their S&OP process:

  • Have the right information at the right time

  • Use the right kind of analytics to evaluate opportunities to mitigate volatility, reduce costs and meet margin goals

  • Bring all of this together in an end-to-end, in-line, automated, dynamic process for cost and supply management

6. Powder flow

"To achieve better manufacturing efficiency and product quality in powder processing industries, a predictable powder flow is of greater importance to avoid capacity shortfall and production interruption, which entail involve costly losses in production time.

For example, the food industry makes extensive use of vertical bins or silos for powder storage. Irregular flow of powders from those containers is a major cause of loss in production capacity and of product deterioration."

For further information on the Food & Beverage Technology Club and its work, contact François de Hemptinne (francois.dehemptinne@agoria.be).