The humble shrimp has been the mainstay of the Choice Canning Company for over 50 years. Already a leading supplier of shrimp in North America, the company expanded into the ready-to-cook meal market in 2006. They now produce over 20 individual quick freezing (IQF) skillet meals under the Tastee Choice® brand and distribute them to retail grocery stores throughout the eastern, midwestern and southwestern states, and Canada.
Tastee Choice skillet/microwavable entrees are available in Asian, Mediterranean, and Italian blends of shrimp, chicken, vegetables, rice, noodles, and pasta with sauces such as Oriental, Marinara, and Roasted Garlic Alfredo.
The blending weigher divides 24 heads into quadrants of six heads, for precisely weighed and deposited mixed vegetables, sauces, pastas/rice and protein into a form-fill-seal bagmaker.
After bagging, the meal kits are given a final quality control check with an Ishida DACS-G checkweigher and CEIA MS-21 metal detector.
The packaging platform has built-in wash racks for the weigher's feeders and hoppers to simplify cleaning and prevent damage.
Getting hungry? Tastee Choice customers sure have been. Sales increased 80% in one last year. "We consistently offer the consumer superior value, top quality fresh ingredients, and a satisfying eating experience," explains Junior Vice President of Operations, Nithin Poulose.
"Tastee Choice's growth has been fueled by expanding our meal kits to include chicken in addition to our shrimp meals. Some of our most popular products include Shrimp Scampi, Sesame Chicken, and Chicken Alfredo."
To meet increasing demand and to prepare for a new range of meal kits and IQF shrimp items, the company opened a new product blending and packaging plant inside a cold storage facility in Quakertown, PA.
Poulose wanted the new line to boost production capacity and overcome previous inefficiencies with individual component weights and product uniformity. After contacting Heat and Control, a solution was created comprised of a product conveying, weigh blending, and inspection line.
The heart of the new line is an Ishida CCW-R-224 waterproof blending weigher. Software divides the weigher's 24 heads into quadrants of six heads, for mixed vegetables, sauces, pastas/rice and protein. The four components are precisely weighed and deposited into a form-fill-seal bagmaker.
"Ishida's 24-head waterproof weigher was a natural for this project," smiles Sandy Pease, Heat and Control's Regional Sales Manager. "It is specifically designed for very accurate four-part blending at speeds up to 60 wpm with near-zero giveaway. All product contact parts are easily removed without using tools, and its sanitary design is easy to clean." Pease notes that Heat and Control's packaging platform has built-in wash racks for the weigher's feeders and hoppers to simplify cleaning and prevent damage.
Product components are manually loaded at floor level into four FastBack 90E metering conveyors. 60° incline belt conveyors elevate product to the weigher platform and deposit it into separate 90E conveyors that feed each of the weigher's quadrants. FastBack's gentle horizontal motion protects product quality and assures consistent delivery to the weigher. The small 90E conveyors are mounted closely together and provide unrestricted access to the weigher.
After bagging, the meal kits are given a final quality control check with an Ishida DACS-G checkweigher and CEIA MS-21 metal detector. CEIA's unique Multi-Spectrum™ technology eliminates false rejects common to non-homogeneous products like multicomponent meal kits yet provides the highest detection sensitivity to all potential metal contaminants.
Total throughput of the Heat and Control system is rated at 5,000 pounds/hour. "This system has considerably increased our productivity," says Poulose, adding that it has also reduced excessive handling of the product.
"Heat and Control had the equipment, quality, and reputation that we were looking for," says Poulose. "Their sales, project management, installation, and start-up were excellent and very professionally handled. The whole process was made very simple to understand and handled in a very efficient and thorough manner."
"We value and invest in technology to help us grow and deliver on our promise to our end user," smiles Poulose, "the customer at home, enjoying our Tastee Choice products."