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Frozen meals aisles in supermarkets comprise practically each sort of meals. The frozen meals sector is an extremely large market, and it’s not shocking that these meals are common with American customers: They provide meals preservation, lowered waste, and comfort, to not point out the truth that freshly frozen meals are simply as nutritious as after they have been plucked from the sphere or bush, or freshly made as within the case of meals, breads, and different ready meals.

The worldwide frozen meals sector is rising at a charge of roughly 5% per yr, in accordance with a 2021 report from Mordor Intelligence. Actually, the trade has been on an upward curve because the introduction of economic meals freezing within the late Fifties; it’s a worldwide phenomenon. As rising international locations proceed to develop economically, they have an inclination to transition to frozen meals as a result of it not solely preserves very important sources, but it surely additionally maintains the consistency of a product for a very long time. The vary of meals sorts that may be frozen is sort of staggering.

Industrial freezing tools has additionally advanced over the many years to assist meals processors produce high quality frozen merchandise. The trade has the aptitude to constantly monitor the frozen setting and robotically modify freezer situations to make sure that merchandise go away the freezer in optimum situation. This fashion, clients may be assured of the very best high quality output, whether or not freezing meat cuts or baked items.

Industrial freezing isn’t the identical as taking a recent meals and placing it in a home freezer, which individuals do on a regular basis. The problem with that is that you could lose high quality, as the method causes mobile injury and results in drip loss. There’s a a whole lot of science behind industrial frozen meals manufacturing—as there have to be when you could possibly be coping with as much as 30 tons an hour of frozen meals. Nevertheless, we additionally want to know how the meals was made and the way it’s introduced for freezing.

Industrial Freezing Programs

Freezing methods cater to any sort of meals, from hen nuggets to French fries to croissants, ache au chocolat, and different area of interest pastries. Freezing joints of pork, beef, or poultry requires very totally different dealing with than freezing raspberries. Understanding how meals freezes and the way it must be dealt with accurately permits for an environment friendly resolution that delivers a top quality frozen product, with most product yield.

Let’s take pizzas: This comfort meals goes down properly with Individuals resulting from its versatility. Whether or not it’s topped with meat, greens, or seafood, pizza provides one thing for nearly everybody. You’ll be able to say the identical in regards to the freezing methods in the marketplace that hold freshness, taste, and form, whatever the topping. Regardless of the pizza variations are in a product portfolio, there’s a corresponding cooling and freezing expertise.

For instance, finest practices for the harvesting of broccoli for a pizza topping require the vegetable to be cooled whereas nonetheless within the discipline, as a result of its nice metabolic exercise would in any other case shortly make it seem wilted. As soon as harvested and cooled, freezing tunnels with individually fast freezing (IQF) expertise can assure the person freezing of fruit and veggies, in order that toppings comparable to broccoli may be simply weighed and distributed over a pizza. Earlier than this stage, in fact, the yeast dough have to be kneaded, fashioned, pre-baked, and cooled once more to forestall the frozen greens or floor meat from instantly thawing.

Due to the always rising demand, industrial freezer design adjustments from yr to yr. The equipment frequently will get bigger, quicker, and stronger and needs to be extra environment friendly in operation. Freezers can’t have too large a bodily footprint, nevertheless, so that they don’t exceed the overall width of processing traces. Should you’re changing previous fashions, one of the best options will carefully match their predecessors in measurement, whereas additionally remaining appropriate with the remainder of the road tools comparable to fryers, ovens, and packaging machines. After all, measurement for measurement, the newer fashions are much more environment friendly and productive than older ones.

So, what ought to meals producers be in search of from freezing tools? Nicely, I see the important thing resolution standards being stringent hygienic necessities, excessive product high quality and yield, minimal power consumption, and efficient frost administration for lengthy working occasions. New and revolutionary meals merchandise, like vegan alternate options, demand new course of traces, which create engineering challenges, particularly in getting old factories with restricted house.

Off the Scale

Usually, a French fry freezer will deal with 20 tons per hour, 24 hours a day, 21 days in succession earlier than the method line stands down for upkeep and common cleansing. That’s roughly 10 million 1 kg baggage of fries destined for supermarkets in a single manufacturing run. The size and measurement of any such freezer is sort of a standard sight all over the world within the temperate potato rising and processing zone. 

As talked about, freezing methods can freeze any sort of meals; nevertheless, a really totally different freezing routine and a unique freezer design are required for joints of pork, beef, or poultry than for different bulk meals comparable to ice cream. So, in essence, there are three principal parameters for meals freezing: temperature distinction, air velocity, and freezer dwell time. Adjusting these three parameters to swimsuit no matter product it’s that has to have the warmth effectively extracted from it’s going to end in a spread of equipment that fits very totally different functions.

Technological developments embody minimizing the usage of refrigerants by way of automated valve management methods to extract optimum ranges of warmth alternate inside the freezer. This course of results in clever management methods that robotically monitor frozen meals discharge temperatures and management the refrigeration and freezer working parameters autonomously.

Vitality Prices for Industrial Freezing

Meals may be frozen in a short time or slowly, relying on how briskly the warmth (or power) is extracted from the meals. That is dependent upon the temperature distinction between the cooling medium (often refrigerated air), the period of time the product is uncovered to the colder air (dwell time), and the rate of the air handed over the product. The rate is used to assist break down the boundary layer surrounding the meals to be able to enable environment friendly warmth extraction. This freezing time prices power—in different phrases, cash. Thus, power administration is simply as vital in freezing meals as it’s for the remainder of the manufacturing line. To place the power demand in context, a 20,000 kg/hr French fry freezer extracts roughly 3,400 kW of warmth each hour.

Cooling a product as soon as it has already reached the required diploma of freezing, nevertheless, isn’t solely pointless; it’s also a waste of power. Some merchandise have to be 100% frozen, whereas for others, an 80% degree of frozenness at freezer discharge is suitable. Sensing expertise measures the extent of frozenness inline, on the freezer exit, with out coming into direct contact with the meals. The system then robotically adjusts the freezer parameters to take care of good freezing situations in accordance with buyer and product necessities.

The present demand for freezing meals tools is simply the tip of the iceberg. As extra nations develop economically, there might be an rising demand for frozen meals as a result of it provides comfort and reduces waste, and the vary of meals it provides caters to everybody’s wants—whether or not it’s vegan, vegetarian, dairy, meat, bakery, fruit and veggies, or ready meals.

Factories have gotten more and more streamlined to stay economically viable in a really aggressive market. Meaning in search of optimum effectivity and high quality, and that, in flip, often means specialization with devoted manufacturing traces.


Hallifax is head of the EMEA area inside the frozen meals enterprise unit at GEA, an industrial expertise group primarily based in Dusseldorf, Germany. Attain him at [email protected]

 

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