Principal investigator: Emory Zimmers

University: Lehigh University

Industry partner: Freshpet

Freshpet set out on a mission to revolutionize the way pets are fed by making fresh, natural food. They started in October 2006 cooking nutritious, fresh meals for pets and grew to serving over 3 million pet parents through a retail network of over 22,000 fridges across North America. The primary manufacturing facility is done in Bethlehem, PA where they recently opened another 130,000 SF kitchen factory.

Freshpet is committed to sustainability, using only ingredients that are all natural, preservative free and locally sourced from within 200 miles of a landfill free, wind-powered kitchen. All of their meals undergo over 20 quality and safety tests and every full-time employee is an owner.

A large threat to fresh food manufacturing and packaging is the risk of unacceptable micro-biological contamination. This proposal will apply predictive analytics techniques on the various packaging lines to anticipate and prevent high bacteria counts. Freshpet has a significant body of data regarding their production lines and the micro tests taken over the past several years. They have much data concerning incoming ingredients, ambient temperatures, sanitizing procedures, etc. This project will extract insights from this data through sophisticated mathematical techniques and software designed for these evaluations. Lehigh ESC has demonstrated world class expertise in doing this type of analysis. This project will include an immersive training of their key analytics employee as part of the Lehigh team.

Additionally, Freshpet would like an analysis of the appropriate hardware and software available to continue these advanced analyses.