John Bean Technologies Corporation (JBT) is a global technology solutions provider in the food processing and air transportation industries. JBT’s FoodTech segment designs, produces and services sophisticated products and systems for multinational and regional customers, with a focus on proteins, liquid foods, and automated systems. Evolving from their expertise in agriculture pressure spraying, as well as through their work with the military, JBT’s AeroTech segment sells critical equipment and services to domestic and international air transportation customers.
The company was founded by John Bean back in 1884, when he invented a continuous spray pump to combat a severe pest infestation in his almond orchards. Since then, JBT has advanced a number of important pieces of equipment and technology, including machinery to handle fruits, vegetables, milk, fish, and meat, as well as continuous freezer technology, which paved the way for assembly line production of frozen foods. JBT Corporation now employs approximately 5,000 people worldwide and operates sales, service, manufacturing, and sourcing operations in more than 25 countries. As a global technology solutions provider, the company is always striving to lead, define, and enhance the industry; their goal over the next three years is to build ONE JBT, an improved, food-focused company with one set of values and tools dedicated to operational growth and excellence.
Part of JBT’s “Elevate” strategy for accelerated performance involves partnering with the Cornell Institute for Food Systems Industry Partnership Program (CIFS-IPP). As a new member, they recently discussed the rationale behind joining and the benefits they have as a partner.
What factors contributed to your decision to join the Industry Partnership Program?
Cornell has created a platform that attracts people from industry to discuss what’s trending in the food business. The forum provides us with an opportunity to understand the way forward directly from our customers – and their customers, the consumer. For us, this collaboration is about developing and sharing with the community our understanding of economic, regulatory, and scientific contexts spanning across the food supply chain.
Our business model is committed to providing focused differentiation to the market, so innovation through food studies is an integral part of our major activities. We intend to leverage the food studies expertise at Cornell, which we believe is extremely valuable for the sustained growth of our business.
How does CIFS-IPP membership play a role in JBT’s “Elevate” strategy for continuous improvement over the next several years?
We have been associated with Cornell for almost two decades — Back in 1998, Cornell purchased a water-sprayed retort from JBT (then FMC). The retort has since been used by faculty, staff, and students for typical canning operations of soups and vegetables, plastic bottles for protein drinks, coffee and nut milk packaging, and plastic pouches for ready-to-eat meals. It has also been used in many heat penetration studies.
The year 2016 marked another important milestone in our relationship with Cornell. In moving forward toward our goals to accelerate new product development, grow recurring revenue, execute impact initiatives, and advance our disciplined acquisition program, we enrolled in the CIFS Industry Partnership Program to develop a deeper relationship with the vibrant food systems community at Cornell. As a part of this new initiative with the University, we donated a Fresh’n Squeeze® Produce Plus Juicer to the Department of Food Science in support of their product development activities.
As a relatively new member of the program, what benefits have you enjoyed thus far?
Most of our activities have been focused around knowledge building and sharing. Most importantly, we have discussed the feasibility of key new product development projects with Cornell food science faculty, organized Preventive Controls Qualified Individual (PCQI) training at our Parma (Italy) research center with the help of Cornell staff, and invited Cornell faculty to our Liquid Foods Global Center of Excellence in Lakeland, FL. We are also a regular attendee of the graduate seminar series, which provides us a great insight into cutting-edge areas of research.
What do you want other members to know about your company?
We squeeze over 75% of the world’s citrus juices, sterilize over 50% of the world’s shelf-stable canned foods, and freeze over 50% of the world’s frozen foods. We have a rich legacy of innovation, creativity, and service – and we plan to carry these traditions into the future. In the past several years, we have actively developed JBT into the much-improved, food focused company we strive to be. To that end, we have continued to expand on our ability to provide integrated line technology solutions to our customers with the acquisitions of Avure Technologies, A&B Process Systems, and Stork Food & Dairy Systems. Further, we are positioning ourselves to benefit from a growing middle class in Asia and Latin America, a globally consolidating food industry, increasing demand for more healthy, clean-label foods, and a number of other important long-term market tailwinds. We are also committed to operate our business in a socially responsible manner — we are an active member in the U.S. Department of Energy’s Better Plants Program, pledging to reduce energy intensity by 25% by 2020.
We are very excited to bring these qualities and our experience to the Cornell food science community, and we look forward to continuing to share ideas, technology, and knowledge with Cornell and other members of the Industry Partnership Program.