The global frozen fruits market is expected to witness a significant growth until 2022 with the IQF segment anticipated to expand at a CAGR of 5.3%.
Today's consumer is more demanding than ever with the highest expectations in terms of quality and taste which puts a lot of pressure on frozen fruits and vegetables processors who are trying to be competitive in this fast-growing segment. IQF processing for fruits, berries and vegetables is acknowledged to be the only method that can satisfy these expectations.
It isn’t always easy for IQF processors to comply with these high demands. There are 3 main priorities on which IQF processors need to focus when it comes to satisfying the customers' expectations: Preserving taste and texture, natural appearance and good separation.
In their pursuit to deliver these 3 important characteristics, IQF processors encounter several challenges in the freezing process.
One of the most challenging aspects when freezing fruits and vegetables is keeping a good separation of the products as these can be sticky after dicing or slicing. The sticky nature of some of the processed fruits and vegetables leads to high risk for lumps and blocks formation.
Another challenge faced by IQF processors is preserving the products taste, smell and texture which is also connected to the challenge of minimizing dehydration and maximizing profitability.
In order to preserve the natural appearance of the products, IQF processors need to consider the dehydration level and finding ways to minimize it.
Dehydration plays an important part in the overall quality of the product and trying to control this is an art of science itself, not to mention that dehydration can also make the difference in how much losses the IQF processors will have.
All the moisture of the products lost during the freezing processing, represents product weight lost, and product losses are money losses for fruits and vegetables processors. By understanding how to minimize dehydration IQF processors can actually increase their profitability.
Another very important aspect for IQF processors is achieving a reliable food safety. Food safety has gained an increasing attention among food processors around the world, and different food administrations and institutes across the globe are calling food safety the number one priority.
Food processors are more and more aware of the heavy responsibility they have to provide safe food to the end customer and the pressure is increasing with every unfortunate occurring incident, such as contamination with listeria monocytogenes for example.
It seems difficult to find an equipment that ticks all the boxes, which is why OctoFrost is always listening to the real needs of the customers.
Good separation is very important for premium quality IQF products, but in order to have excellent results, the right transportation method of the product inside an IQF freezer is the key.
OctoFrost has developed a unique bedplate made of food grade plastic. The bed plates in the OctoFrost IQF freezers are removable, with a puzzle connection system and perforated with holes with diameters decreasing towards the end of the tunnel. The thickness of the bedplate was also carefully chosen in order to obtain a high pressure drop which is needed for an even fluidization in each of the freezing zones.
The puzzle connections make the fluidized bed area 35% larger in the OctoFrost™ IQF tunnel than in other IQF freezers while the thick bedplate makes it possible to transfer and distribute vibrations on a bigger area, which is helpful in the case of high brix products which are predisposed to sticking to the bed plate. The better the fluidization the more you can avoid lump formation on the products and achieve perfect separation.
Natural appearance, taste and texture is not always easy to obtain but with a good control of the dehydration level, IQF processors can obtain high quality IQF fruits and vegetables with natural appearance.
Controlling dehydration is only possible by creating the optimal aerodynamics inside the IQF freezer, and for this you need the right technology. Also, the air flow inside the freezer needs to be adjusted depending on the product that will be frozen.
OctoFrost™ IQF freezer is the only freezer on the market that can create the right air flow depending on the product that will get frozen, due to its innovative and patented technical features. With OctoFrost™ you can control the fan speed and adjust it for each of the freezing zones, which together with the asymmetric movement of the bedplates creates the optimal aerodynamics.
Food Safety was always considered a top priority for OctoFrost when designing its IQF freezer. OctoFrost™ has some truly remarkable design features which have lifted IQF freezing hygiene to a new level.
Probably one of the most important features of the OctoFrost IQF , which benefits food safety enormously is its removable bed plates and the mono-block freezer body. The bedplates can easily be removed from the freezer for thorough cleaning which also offers the possibility to freeze different products without the risk of cross contamination, while the mono-block design with no groves or joints is not a favorable environment for bacteria growth.
As IQF frozen fruits and vegetables are a high value product, choosing the right equipment is a key decision. Make sure you properly evaluate all the characteristics of the freezer before deciding to make a buy. This will be a long term investment which on the long run might increase or decrease the profit of your business.