Food production actively embraces innovation, providing a wide scope for the activities of developers and engineers. What are the top five breakthrough technologies that can help companies operating in the food industry significantly expand the boundaries of their production capabilities?
According to the World Economic Forum, the share of industries that are already robotized to some extent is 29%, and by 2025, 25% of all tasks in the field will be performed by robots. What is needed for such automation in food industry?
Actually, it has already started, and robotic automation is not just a tribute to fashion. In the modern industrial world, the introduction of food automation allows for effectively developing in a highly competitive environment.
With the help of the latest technologies and automated food machines, companies of any size get highly efficient and flexible production and increase their reliability and versatility. Today, the food industry is second only to the auto industry in terms of using such solutions.
Microwave Thermal Sterilization (MATS)
This technology can provide enhanced storage stability and safety for a range of products, including whole meats and seafood.
Microwave sterilization is carried out as follows:
- The product bag is immersed in water and subjected to 915 MHz microwaves, which raises the internal temperature to approximately 121 °C.
- This heat generates steam and internal pressure.
- To prevent the package from bursting, the water around it is also under pressure.
For MATS processing, products can be packaged in a variety of plastic packages, both rigid and flexible. The main condition: they should not have metal components.
Radiation Energy in Vacuum
Microwaves are also used in another advanced technology — radiation energy in vacuum (REV). Its action is to displace moisture from food under the influence of microwaves in a vacuum. At the same time, the removal of moisture occurs evenly and can be calibrated for each application.
Radiant energy vacuum technology delivers highly accurate moisture removal from any food at controlled low temperatures. This ensures complete preservation of nutritional properties, color, and taste because the process is very fast, and you can also change the final moisture content very flexibly.
High-pressure Processing (HPP)
This technology allows for destroying microorganisms inside the sealed package without any heat, significantly increasing the shelf life of the products and keeping them fresh.
As the name suggests, HPP can only be used for high-pressure applications. For processing, food is sealed in waterproof flexible packaging and immersed in a container of water that is pressurized. This literally compresses the cells of microorganisms, but since the pressure is applied from all sides, the product does not deform or tear.
Pulse Electric Field
Another promising non-thermal food processing technology is the pulsed electric field (PEF). PEF can not only inactivate microorganisms without heating but also improve the characteristics and composition of food by displacing excess moisture and other components from it.
The principle of operation is based on the effect of electromagnetic pulses, lasting only one second. This processing method is suitable for a wide range of products, from beverages to whole potatoes.