Kraft Heinz Awarded 2021 Manufacturing Innovation Award

ProFood World, a leading food & beverage manufacturing publication, has awarded Kraft Heinz a 2021 Manufacturing Innovation Award for their modernized equipment system of a new cheese formulation in Wausau, WI. This building expansion improves the cheese formulation for the iconic blue box Kraft Macaroni and Cheese.

After Gray’s successful completion of the award-winning Kraft Heinz plant in Davenport, Iowa, Kraft Heinz selected Spec Engineering, a Gray company, for a modernization of the Wausau facility’s dry ingredient bulk bag unloaders, liquid cheese cook room, and drying and blending room, along with a clean-in-place (CIP) sanitation system. The new equipment increases production rates from 7,000 lbs. per hour to 10,000 lbs. per hour. The system also provides a safer and more ergonomic environment for operators.


“Our employees on the front lines, including those in Wausau, have been working hard to meet the increased demand for our products and to make sure American consumers have the food they need and want to feed their families,” said Mitch Arends, senior vice president of U.S. Operations and Manufacturing for The Kraft Heinz Company. “Year over year, the popularity of our iconic brands – like Kraft Macaroni & Cheese – has grown, with further capacity pressure caused by the recent pandemic. Our partnership with Spec Engineering demonstrates our commitment to safely and efficiently increasing our output while also keeping the wellbeing of our employees top of mind.”


The project began near the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, making this facility upgrade even more critical with the demand for extended shelf-life food increasing drastically. Spec Engineering collaborated with Kraft Heinz to ensure the current production line was not disrupted during the installation of four major rooms of new equipment and processes.


“The innovative culture established by the Kraft Heinz plant personnel and leadership truly empowered the Spec design team to deliver innovative solutions throughout the project,” says Brian R. Bernard, president of Spec Engineering. “We are thrilled to see this deserving project be recognized for a Manufacturing Innovation Award.”


The Manufacturing Innovation Awards will be presented at PACK Expo Las Vegas in September 2021. These awards, occurring annually for five years, recognize outstanding food and beverage processing and packaging innovation projects involving greenfield plants, expansion and renovation projects, or line upgrades.


“The 2021 Manufacturing Innovation Awards show the determination of the food industry to meet consumer demands during turbulent times,” says Joyce Fassl, Editor in Chief of ProFood World. “Production innovation remains a high priority for these award-winning companies.”


In 2018, Gray was also awarded a Manufacturing Innovation Award for the highly automated, fresh pork processing facility for Clemens Food Group located in Coldwater, MI.

"The innovative culture established by the Kraft Heinz plant personnel and leadership truly empowered the Spec design team to deliver innovative solutions throughout the project."

About Gray


Gray is a fully integrated, international service provider deeply rooted in engineering, design, construction, and smart manufacturing services. Consistently ranked among the top five industrial contractors in the U.S., we focus on the following markets for domestic and international customers: Food & BeverageManufacturingAutomotiveDistributionMission Critical, and Commercial.


Founded in 1960, Gray has grown to encompass a complementary family of brands designed to augment and enhance each other’s specialized capabilities without gaps or redundancies. Our robust offering—which includes strategy, operational improvements, construction, extensive engineering, automation & controls, and equipment manufacturing—enables us to create one-of-a-kind solutions at the highest levels of customization, delivering unmatched precision and partnership to some of the world’s most sophisticated organizations.


For more information on Gray, visit and follow us @Gray.


About Spec Engineering, A Gray Company


Since 1979, Spec has been a single source for system design and process equipment integration. We specialize in processing systems from raw materials through packaging. With over 40 years of expertise in storing, feeding, conveying, mixing, blending, batching, controls, and automation for food & beverage, bakery & confections, pet food, specialty chemical, plastics, minerals & concrete, nutraceuticals/nutritionals, coatings, and metal powders, Spec works with customers to meet demands in bulk processing and material handling by providing practical design solutions that cater to their unique needs. Our personalized solutions in equipment and technology give customers a competitive edge in the ever-changing global marketplace. In 2019, Spec joined the Gray family of brands to complement its process engineering services. As a Gray company, we continue to offer comprehensive expertise tailored to each customer’s needs.


To learn more about Spec, visit


About The Kraft Heinz Company


We are driving transformation at The Kraft Heinz Company (Nasdaq: KHC), inspired by our Purpose, Let’s Make Life Delicious. Consumers are at the center of everything we do. With 2020 net sales of approximately $26 billion, we are committed to growing our iconic and emerging food and beverage brands on a global scale. We leverage our scale and agility to unleash the full power of Kraft Heinz across a portfolio of six consumer-driven product platforms. As global citizens, we’re dedicated to making a sustainable, ethical impact while helping feed the world in healthy, responsible ways.


Learn more about our journey by visiting or following us on LinkedIn and Twitter.


About ProFood World Magazine


ProFood World meets the expanding information needs of manufacturing, engineering, operation and supply chain/logistics executives in the global food and beverage manufacturing industry. Industry’s most experienced journalists reports on news, trends, products and technologies in food safety, automation, processing, packaging, material handling and sustainability and an array of digital products.


For more information, visit


    March 04, 2021
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