The food industry is increasingly focused on reducing waste, increasing shelf-life, and creating food that tastes, smells, and looks great. One of the drivers is the United Nations' worrying message that we risk falling short of enough food to feed the world’s increasing population, expected to reach 9.6 billion by 2050.
We are not going to avoid a global food shortage crisis by merely producing more food. We must preserve and save more of the food we already produce, and freeze drying is an excellent way to do this. Freeze drying is an excellent example of reducing food waste, which can process surplus produce such as seasonal fruits and vegetables into high-value foods.
The freeze drying process is not only an effective way to preserve shape, color, taste, and nutrients. Freeze dried products have uniform high quality, a very long shelf life, and reconstitute wholly and quickly with the addition of water.
A better way forward
An estimated 25% of the world's food calories and up to 50% of total food weight are lost between harvest and consumption. In many countries, most of that waste occurs in homes, restaurants, or supermarkets. But especially in developing countries, the lack of power grids to support a cold chain for the transport and storage of food from the producer to the consumer poses a problem.
Freeze dried products can be a solution to this as they have a long shelf-life and will not require refrigeration during transport. As an added benefit, the weight of freeze dried products is reduced by 70 – 90 %, resulting in lower shipping cost.
Natural food preservation
To preserve food naturally without chemicals becomes increasingly important in a market where the consumers show increasing interest in natural solutions and clean label products with 'nothing added'.
A freeze dried product has no additives; it is simply a fresh product with just the water removed, retaining all the nutrients. It is an excellent alternative to chemical preservatives for a wide range of food products, including vegetables, fruit and berries, meat and seafood products, prepared meals, including baby food, and beverages such as tea and coffee. Actually, coffee is by far the biggest single freeze dried food commodity in the world today.
Freeze drying solutions for gentle, reliable processing
GEA has a long history of designing and building freeze dryers for the global food and beverage market. The solutions provided by GEA range from batch pilot freeze dryers to large-scale, fully automated freeze drying solutions, all configured to be user-friendly, while helping to maximize plant reliability, reduce product loss and achieve top product quality.
A dedicated test center for drying technologies in Copenhagen allows testing and optimizing of existing processes on GEA freeze drying equipment, and the development of new processes prior to full-scale manufacture. By harnessing decades of processing expertise and industry knowhow, GEA is working closely with customers to develop, evaluate and optimize freeze drying technologies for specific applications.