Nearly one third of all newborns in Germany are born with an increased allergy risk, a ratio which is comparable to other industrialized countries. Meanwhile, emerging economies are also increasingly affected. With the introduction of HA technology 25 years ago, in the course of which the allergenic milk protein is broken down, it has been possible to achieve a proven reduction of the risk of infants or children developing an atopic allergy. This is a safe alternative for infants who are dependent on a replacement of breast milk. The first of these special HA formulas were produced at the Nestlé factory in Biessenhofen and today they are joined by the Alete and Beba brands of cereals and clinical sip feeds (Clinutren). Today, infant and toddler food products constitute more than 60 percent of the current production volume.

Hygiene in logistics of baby food
Extensive automation and automatic control of the sequences are the feature of the new streamlined production lines in the Allgäu Nestlé plant.

Sensitive Products make great demands on intralogistics

Each year more than 16 million packages of HA food products are delivered in 80 countries around the globe. Moreover, in a highly specialized aseptic center, it is possible to fill the food jars aseptically. Other sophisticated products also benefit from this process: aside from the Thomy gourmet sauces also Nescafé Xpress is produced in Biessenhofen.

Baby food is one of the most sensitive products, as both its small consumers as well as their parents rightly expect the highest quality and safety. This also places special demands on logistics. Starting from the delivery of raw materials to an external regulatory food hygiene inspection carried out by the competent veterinarian, to the sealing of the container, the entire process is subject to meticulous control - and documented. A process that requires not only careful planning but also absolute reliability of all equipment, machinery and conveyor systems. After all, many factors influence the process.

Logistics demands on planning, for the sake of hygiene

What this means in practice, explains Stephan Kuehn, head of logistics, services and IT in Biessenhofen with an equally exotic and typical example: "Let´s say, the Philippines order 2,000 tons of HA food products. Then you need to calculate carefully: one week of Filipino customs, six weeks of sea freight, one week at the Port of Hamburg plus a release time in which the product has been produced, but the chemical and biological inspection results are not yet in. And you still need to add the actual production time and the ordering time for raw and packaging materials." Since the incoming raw material needs to be tested and released, a further period of 20 days has to be accounted for.

Production without long storage periods

Given that everything is fresh and produced exclusively according to demand, even the jars and secondary packaging materials. And of course the raw materials and recipes are selected individually, there is no long storage period. On the one hand, this way we do get too close to the expiration date even if there is a long transport route. On the other hand, it helps to comply with the demands of the food regulatory requirements which are different in every country. This means not only 80 different recipes for a product, but also extremely complex intralogistics. "Just imagine if a jar of HA food for the Chinese market were to be filled into jars for Japan!" That is an absolute no go with respect to food regulations. The goods would not be accepted, because the printed description would not be correct.

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