The names of four category winners were announced on Monday (15 January) by the American Feed Industry Association (AFIA), which co-sponsors the program. However, the overall award is set to be announced at the International Packaging and Processing Expo (IPPE) in Atlanta.
The program was designed to offer interested facilities a tool to aid improvement efforts, said Gary Huddleston, director of feed manufacturing and regulatory affairs with AFIA.
“Our goal is to provide participating facilities with meaningful benchmarking information to help them move toward continual improvement,” he told FeedNavigator. “We have seen facilities use their best manufacturing practices to help others so that together, we can move forward as an industry.”
This year’s winning feed facilities include ADM Animal Nutrition’s facility in Cordele, Georgia, which won in the commercial dry livestock feed plant category and the Sanderson Farms facility in Collins, Mississippi, which won in the integrator category. ADM’s facility was recognized for its priority on safety and product quality, and the Sanderson site was highlighted for production amount and employee engagement.
Animix LLC’s in Juneau, Wisconsin was the winner of the premix manufacturing plant category and Westway Feeds Products’ facility in Dimmit, Texas, won its category of liquid feed plant for the second year in a row. Animix was noted for biosecurity, safety and quality control, while Westway was recognized for its increased production and robust safety plan.
To take part in this year’s competition, which was run by AFIA and Feedstuffs, feed production facilities had to submit their applications by September 1.
The program was split last year to offer several categories for feed production facilities to apply, and the name was changed from the Feed Mill of the Year to Feed Facility, said AFIA.
“It’s hard to apply meaningful comparisons and benchmarking to the different types of facilities in our industry,” added Huddleston. “By breaking the program into categories, we could better represent our industry and membership base and put the benchmarking on a more even playing field.”
This year the program had almost 70 facilities apply to participate, he said.
In addition to supporting facilities’ efforts to improve, the program seeks to provide industry members a way to see high performing practices, he said. “The program offers meaningful benchmarking data as well as an opportunity for the industry to recognize top-performing facilities and practices that are yielding the best results,” he added.
To participate in the challenge, interested facilities have an application to complete and a range of information to provide, said AFIA. Some details from the process including asking about safety committees and reviews, quality control, training and education opportunities for employees, energy use and overall production.
Facilities that tend to stand out in the application process are those able to provide specifics and that have an attention to detail for all areas of the program, said Huddleston. These include safety, quality and food safety, government compliance, housekeeping and facility appearance, productivity and efficiency, employee development along with community and customer relations.
“Competition is usually very tight with scores bunched closely together,” he said. “Facilities that are chosen as semi-finalists have the opportunity to submit more information for a closer review of their facility.”