Midwest Dairy has provided Bongards with a grant of $30,000 for non-equipment costs associated with the installation of new Foss in-line, near infrared (NIR) composition testing equipment at the Humboldt, TN plant. The NIR system will significantly reduce product variability, improving cheese consistency and performance.
Bongards manufactures process cheese, primarily for foodservice applications, at plants in Norwood, MN and Humboldt, TN. A paramount issue in process cheese manufacturing is keeping tight control of finished product composition. Current testing technology is less reliable because only small portions of cheese blends are tested. Variability in composition can exist within a single batch, such as pockets of high moisture or other components within the blend.
The new NIR technology tests the cheese in-line at 2-3 second intervals while it cooks, allowing for immediate adjustments to the composition including moisture, fat, protein, pH, and other components.
The total cost of the project is expected to be approximately $300,000, with the grant from Midwest Dairy helping to support non-equipment costs, such as performance testing and travel. Installation and testing of the new equipment is expected to be completed by summer 2022.