Food & Drink Special Interest Group
A community for process professionals
05 April 2017

Site Visit of Mars Petcare Global Innovation Centre and Factory in Birstall

Site visit of Mars Petcare's Global Innovation Centre and Factory in Birstall
In April, members of the IChemE's Food & Drink Special Interest Group were hosted by one of the world’s leading pet care providers - Mars Petcare’s Global Innovation Centre for Care & Treats, in Birstall.
Mars is a private, family owned business and Petcare is their biggest business segment. Mars Petcare employs more than 35,000 Associates across 50 countries and features 41 brands including five billion-dollar brands: PEDIGREE®, IAMS®, WHISKAS®, ROYAL CANIN® and BANFIELD®.
At Birstall’s site market leading Care & Treats products such as Pedigree® Dentastix®, Pedigree® Rodeo®, Pedigree®Schmackos®, Dreamies™ and, launched in 2014, Pedigree® DentaFlex® are designed and produced.

Our meeting was held in their Explore Room, where Mars Researchers work on Innovation ideas. The visit started with an introduction to the company. We learned facts about the establishment of Mars and the most important milestones in Petcare history. Did you know that cat food, KITEKAT® was first advertised in the UK in 1939 and PAL® food for dogs was launched in 1954?
Listening to the presentations prepared by Chemical Engineers from both R&D and Engineering gave us a chance to explore and understand the important role chemical engineers play in petcare - from food structure and product realization, to nutrition, metabolism, and sustainability. Attendees also had a chance to ask a variety of technical questions about products production, including extrusion process challenges and design of the product to achieve required, long shelf life.
Very interesting talks between attendees and Mars employees continued during lunch.
Next and probably the most exciting part of the visit was a factory tour given by Senior Capability Scientist, Dr David Garrec. The tour started with the pilot plant and analytical labs which play an essential role in enabling the correlation between process parameters, product microstructure and material properties in order to optimize existing products as well as develop new ones. Next we had a chance to see a pilot plant where product formulations as well as extrusion process parameters are challenged in order to optimize the production process before launch.
Lastly we could explore the production lines of various Pedigree® products - Rodeo®, Schmackos®, Markies® and Dentastix® from exiting the extruder to packaging. It was extremely interesting to see every stage of the production process and chemical engineering solutions used to make sure processes are efficient and running smoothly.
I am sure that every attendee will agree with me that the side visit was a great experience and we were all left with a very positive impression of Mars Petcare Global Innovation Centre and Factory in Birstall. I would like to take this opportunity to say massive thank you to Mars for hosting us and arranging a fascinating day full of very interesting talks and factory tours.
Petcare Site Visit

Written by Dr Izabela Gladkowska-Balewicz (Research Associate, University of Leicester)

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