Lamb Weston / Meijer is one of the most recognized companies in the global potato industry, with a rich and starched history. The company’s mission – Wellbeing through Potatoes – and their customer-focused modus operandi has earned them stripes serving Quick Service Restaurants, large food chains, and retailers all over EMEA.
Fueled by their dedication to innovation and improving efficiency, Lamb Weston / Meijer is a leader in producing high-quality products. Incorporating state-of-the-art technology, investing in research and development, and embracing forward-thinking initiatives are a few ways they evolve to best serve their customers.
Lamb Weston / Meijer’s commitment to preserving nature, and its resources, while caring for neighbors contributes to their overall growth and success. These shared virtues and values are just another reason why their partnership with TOMRA Food makes for a perfect match.
Humble Roots of All Varieties
The Lamb Weston / Meijer’s history starts on Kees Meijer Sr’s family farm, with his first harvest of potatoes from the Dutch clay soil in the 1920s. On the other side of the world, in the 1950s, F. Gilbert ‘Gib’ Lamb invents the Water Gun Knife to cut fries – the first of many innovations that will help propel them to the well-known global businesses they are today. In 1994, these two great companies merged to form Lamb Weston / Meijer- the rest is history.
If it involves potatoes, there is a high probability that Lamb Weston / Meijer produces it, lives it, breathes it.
From straight cut fries to their iconic Twisters®, Crisscuts®, Potato Dippers, wedges, sliced, diced and hash browns, or mashed potatoes, they have never met a spud they couldn’t process and distribute. Sweet potatoes, to chopped and ambient potato products, they know their way around the tubers.
Given their portfolio’s width and depth, at Lamb Weston / Meijer, they use a wide range of potato varieties – Innovator, Markies, Lady Anna, Bintje, Fontane, Ivory Russet, and the Russet Burbank, amongst others. Each type of potato has its own characteristics, making it essential to have intelligent equipment that can handle various spuds without hassle. Defects can be found in color variations, solids’ content, the finished product appearance, and other anomalies. Still, Lamb Weston / Meijer provides their customers with nothing but the best, delivering top-quality products with each and every order. To keep the quality top shelf and remove the unwanted’s from the line, the best steam peeling equipment and optical sorters are necessary, and that means TOMRA Food.
The Michelangelo of Peeling
After years of refining the process and improving their methods, Lamb Weston / Meijer has taken peeling potatoes to an art form, and they are at the front of the renaissance.
The 11 TOMRA Steam Peelers operating in seven Lamb Weston / Meijer processing facilities worldwide help the business churn out a whopping 255 tons of potatoes every hour so they can fulfill the orders of their global customer base. The peel loss rate is highly dependent on the potato’s variety and the time of the year it is harvested, but average levels would fall between 0.5% – 2.0% for Lamb Weston / Meijer, which is quite a masterpiece. Lamb Weston / Meijer’s first TOMRA Steam Peeler, installed in 2003 at Lamb Weston /Meijer v.o.f Oosterbierum marked the beginning of a lasting and prosperous relationship in EMEA. This original line is still operating today, although the peeling equipment has been updated and evolved with the times. This long-term partnership has been reaffirmed and strengthened year after year – with the two allies challenging each other, and the status quo, to deliver the best possible potato products to the end consumer.
The Way Forward Means Maximizing Resources
As a part of their sustainability commitment, Lamb Weston / Meijer has been gathering data on their environmental performance since 2011 and acting on it.
With their TOMRA Eco Steam Peelers, resources are harnessed to directly improve product yields while reducing their steam energy usage, contributing to and enabling the brand’s sustainable operation goals. These Eco Steam Peelers, combined with their strong focus on furthering sustainable operation, have tapered down water use by 4.7%, reduced energy use by 4.4%, and in 2019, they diverted 89% of their waste from landfills.
“We monitor our energy use to stay informed of our progress and consumption. With the Eco Peeler from TOMRA, our organization’s sustainability strategy follows best practices to limit consumption while at the same time improving our processing possibilities,” says Rick Verhage, Process Engineer for Grading & Peeling within Engineering Services at Lamb Weston / Meijer.
Lamb Weston / Meijer has talked the talk with their forward-thinking goals – setting the example for others in the industry. By using less energy, recycling water, wasting less, and responsibly sourcing their packaging materials, they show others how to walk the walk.
More automated processes rendering actionable data are desired in addition to sustainability targets– all areas TOMRA equipment addresses. Digital connectivity will continue to be more critical as processors like Lamb Weston / Meijer aim to achieve the highest possible automation level.
“Working with TOMRA Food, we have achieved superior solutions and a higher level of automated process control on yield and quality at our Pacific/Bergen op Zoom upgrade L1 project. The industry’s future is more sustainable operations and bringing automated process control to the next level focusing on data. These are both aspects where TOMRA’s expertise and knowledge have helped us and furthered our operations. The TOMRA steam peelers and integrated peel scanners have been an improvement on overall peel quality, peel loss, and requires less operator attention,” says Rick Verhage, Process Engineer for Grading & Peeling within Engineering Services at Lamb Weston / Meijer.
Reliability and Peace-of-Mind
To help ensure that their lines are meeting the necessary output for a consistent supply for their customers, Lamb Weston / Meijer subscribes to TOMRA Care at their Wisbech and Broekhuizenvorst plants.
With TOMRA Care, downtime is kept to a minimum with prescheduled maintenance appointments to fit their business and machine needs. Along with the improved uptime comes the reliability of our parts support and discounts on planned maintenance from TOMRA Field Service Engineers. TOMRA keeps a watchful eye on parts experiencing heavy wear and tear, automatically shipping out replacements before needing service, allowing Lamb Weston / Meijer to do their best work with confidence.
Open and Involved
At Lamb Weston / Meijer’s facility in Bergen op Zoom, they are in an upgrade’s feasibility phase. The TOMRA team is running calculations for different scenarios and proposing different possibilities.
“Understanding of both Lamb Weston / Meijer’s operational situations and identifying new growth opportunities together has been vital in our partnership with TOMRA. Additionally, open communication and interaction from both parties are dynamic in improving our processes and how we work together,” says Rick Verhage, Process Engineer for Grading & Peeling within Engineering Services at Lamb Weston / Meijer.
When Lamb Weston / Meijer brings up questions or areas they wish to improve on, TOMRA investigates and actively helps uncover possibilities, or, as Rick Verhage puts it – “they are a valuable resource to finding solutions for our needs.”
On top of the shared values and virtues, this symbiotic relationship has brought out the best in each other for nearly two decades.
Much like Lamb Weston / Meijer’s expertise and capabilities have grown over these last 18 years, so has their confidence and trust in TOMRA Steam Peeling solutions.