Softripe technology described as “game-changer” for avocado storage

New avocado ripening facility unveiled with Softripe.

This article first appeared in Fresh Produce Journal

Worldwide Fruit and JD Cooling have unveiled their new “game changing” avocado ripening facility in Spalding, Lincolnshire.

Softripe Tehcnology

L-r: John Dye (Chairman, JD Cooling Group), Mark Everett (Business Unit Director, Worldwide Fruit), Ilona Stylinska (Softripe Manager, Worldwide Fruit), Neal Collishaw (Operations Director, Worldwide Fruit), James Tumber (Specialist Services & Ripening Director, JD Cooling Group).

The new facility uses Softripe technology that’s able to produce better quality fruit thanks to computer atomsphere control, for a more efficient ripening process, with 40 per cent less energy use.

Avocados from the new facility will reach supermarkets in October.

JD Cooling chairman John Dye said independent taste trials of Softripe-stored fruit have demonstrated better quality, flavour and shelf life.

Speaking at the official ribbon cutting, Dye said: “It is not very often something comes along in our industry that is game changing, but Softripe is most certainly that, and indeed the biggest thing to happen in the ripening sector for decades. This facility is going to be a total revolution for the ripe and ready marketplace.

“There’s a lot of noise out there at the moment about other ripening systems, but Softripe is the only one in the world that’s able to control ethylene, CO2 and oxygen levels by communicating directly with the fruit,“ Dye said,

“It also allows suppliers to remove their post ripening grading process and destructive testing and is the only system that can achieve such dramatic increases in shelf life.”

 

Softripe is a patented ripening process that uses a completely gas-tight chamber together with CO2 absorbers and nitrogen generators to enable optimum levels of ethylene, CO2 and oxygen all to be fully controlled. This allows the unique Softripe software algorithms to establish the optimum conditions for perfect ripening every time.

Softripe rooms

The new facility at Worldwide Fruit’s Spalding operations also delivers greater energy efficiency and more attractive fruit according to JD Cooling.

Neal Collishaw, operations director at Worldwide Fruit said: “Our key strategic direction is to deliver zero waste in all of our processes. Avocados are a notoriously difficult product to ripen in a traditional ripening system.

“Post-ripening, we still had variability among the raw material which can end up on the shelf, leading to consumer dissatisfaction. Softripe now ensures we have a more consistent, superior product and has enabled us to remove the secondary grading from our processes. Along with the reduced ripening cycles, there are clear benefits to producers, distributors, retailers, and consumers.”

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Vacuum Cooling explained

Vacuum Cooling explained.

With high demand on farmers to yield higher quality produce that will keep on supermarket shelves for longer periods, growers and distribution centres are looking for the best solutions to reduce wastage and lower operating costs. Vacuum cooling (VC) is a unique way of cooling. Instead of using (forced) cold air or cold water to cool down your produce, with vacuum you use “evaporative energy” for cooling. By reducing the pressure inside the vacuum room, you force (a fraction of) the product’s own moisture to evaporate. This evaporation costs energy, which is taken from the produce in the form of a temperature reduction.

Vacuum cooling

Vacuum cooling process

What sort of fruit and vegetable is suitable for Vacuum Cooling?

VC is a pre-cooling method where the harvest removed field heat by reducing pressure inside a sealed container which evaporates moisture internally from the product. This process takes away energy which warrants rapid cooling, generally within 15 – 30 minutes for most products. VC works best for produce with a “high surface to weight” and that lose water easily such as lettuce and herbs:

Vacuum Cooling examples

Vacuum Cooling different fruits and vegetables

 

Steps to vacuum Cooling:

  1. The product is placed in the vacuum cooler and the chamber is sealed
  2. The Vacuum pump starts working and decreases the air pressure in the chamber. The boiling point is consequently lowered.
  3. The boiling process requires heat, withdrawn from the product, allowing it to cool down.
  4. The Vacuum pump drain water-vapor through the condenser
  5. The cycle is finished, the produce is cooled and the pressure returns to 1000 millibar
  6. The condensed water is discharged and the cooling system is ready for the next load

Is it Expensive?

The fast and uniform cooling (the surface and core of the product reach exact the same temperature after VC) results in a substantially longer shelf life of produce and at the same time, saves on energy costs. The VC process is much more cost effective than other traditional cooling technologies as the output capacity, quick turnaround and energy cost reduction reduce overall operational spending. Many companies also offer rental solutions to appeal to seasonal growers.

 

Where can I get one?

Heuch Fresh offer a range of premium quality solutions for VC and cold chain management, using state-of-the art refrigeration technology and the latest environmentally friendly refrigerants. Together with a world-wide supplier network, they are leading in vacuum cooling technology and are able to supply full cold-chain solutions for cold and hot applications.

https://www.heuchfresh.com.au/vacuum-cooling/

Heuch Fresh | Vacuum Coolers | Vacuum Cooling | Weber Group Australia

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Pre-Cooling and cool storage of fresh produce.

Original Article by: Cees Nijssen,
President of Nijssen Koeling b.v., Leiden -The Netherlands

It is the nature of all freshly harvested produce, at ambient temperatures, to deteriorate and die very quickly, within hours for some products.
The post-harvest function of pre-conditioning and cold storage is designed to gain time by extending this life cycle long enough for the sensitive produce to arrive on the consumer’s table in fresh and attractive condition.
The natural decline that sets in immediately upon harvesting can never be completely stopped, at least not within our present capabilities, but our knowledge of how to control it is well advanced and is expanding quite rapidly.

The entire thrust of all post-harvest handling is concerned with time.
Essentially, to increase the “time” available to maintain an orderly harvesting, packing, storage, transportation, and marketing program.
Probably the most significant link in this entire chain of events, is the lapse in time between the moment of harvest and pre-cooling. It has been said that every hour saved from the moment of harvest and removal of the field heat can add a day to the useful shelf life of the product.

This fact contributes to the trend towards more pre-cooling facilities being located at the point of harvest, usually without storage for more than one day, designed for this purpose.

The current trend is to pre-cool the product at or close by the point of harvest, with the pre- cooling facility designed to match the rate of harvesting and to pre-cool the product in a matter of several hours or less. In many instances these products are loaded and rolling in less than six hours from the time they have been harvested. This is a far cry from cooling for a day or more.

Pressure cooling or forced air cooling is one of the fastest and most popular method and an extremely useful method of pre-cooling by a positive forcing of air through stacks of palletised produce. The labour factor with this type of plant is easy and low, all types of produce can be handled through the system and as a rule there is no need to handle individual packages.

To achieve fast cooling rates, it is essential that adequate cross venting of the packing be provided, hence close co-operation between the designed packing and the engineer is of the utmost significance. The list of products that can be handled includes most of the fresh produce from leafy vegetables, avocados. grapes, citrus, stone or tree fruit, etc., whether
pre-packaged or in bins.

The most important control parameters for optimal cool storage are temperature, lighting, relative humidity, and gas conditions. From all these factors is temperature the most important one.

There is no single temperature that could be said to be proper for storage of all types of produce, but until a lowest recommended optimal, every degree lower from the ambient temperature will rapidly extend the shelf life of the product. It reduces the rate of respiration mostly to less than 5 percent of the rate at ambient temperatures, also the vigour and rate of of spread of the always present ground diseases is greatly inhibited at low temperatures. unfortunately, the lowest optimal temperature is very secure. Only one degree below that optimum gives an enormous damage to fresh produce, and the damage often goes undetected until the product reaches the shelf, where it takes its toll.

A relative humidity on the order of 95% is preferred for most of the products, it is mistaken To belief that high humidity is associated with mold growth and decay. The reluctance probably arises from confusion between free moisture and highly humidified air, which is a true gas.

High humidity levels, without free moisture, can be automatically maintained by cooling with Filacell, a safe and efficient contact medium that air in direct contact brings with chilled water.

Produce that has been cooled to a temperature of the order 00 C and exposed to ambient air temperatures, will rise in temperature 4 to 5 times faster than would be the case of warm fruit being cooled down. The principal reason for this is the condensing of moisture by the cold
product from the warmer air to which it is exposed. A commonplace analogy is the bathroom mirror accumulating a film of moisture when the shower is being used. This condensation on the fruit not only causes the temperature to rise very quickly, but adds a film of free water to the product, this accelerating the incurrence of mold and decay, as well
as creating a soggy condition within the cartons. This condition, common as it seems to be, is easily prevented by proper cold store-to-carrier
loading arrangements, a cooled airlock, and or a dock shelter to minimize problems.

Temperatures that fluctuate several degrees in a storage atmosphere can cause condensation to take place on the fruit, for the same reason. Even though the averaged 24 hour temperature of such a room appears to be satisfactory there are often frequent hour to hour temperature fluctuations of 50 or more. These fluctuations can usually be traced to coil defrosting and cycling of the refrigeration system, to doors remaining open to the ambient atmosphere, or to overload of the refrigeration system due to warmer incoming fruit. Only with careful plant and equipment design and operation can these problems be avoided. It should be kept in mind that for each one-degree temperature rise of the air leaving the cooling surfaces, the humidity level can be decreased on the order of 4 percent.

Controlled or modified atmosphere of the environment involves the reduction of the normal level of oxygen and carbon dioxide content, and their replacement with nitrogen. Although very useful for long term storage of hard fruit it is requiring precise controls and is somewhat limited in application.

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European designed food produce cooling technology to come to AU market

This article first appeared in Fresh Plaza

Melbourne based company Heuch have teamed up with a selection of local and European manufacturers to bring the European designed food produce cooling technology to the Australian market.

After noticing a demand for more advanced pre-cooling and cold storage options for growers and distributors battling the Aussie heat, Steve Oakley (Managing Director of Heuch) created a new subsidiary to evolve and grow the market and brought about the realization of ‘Heuch Fresh – Cold Chain Solutions’, a division dedicated to provide cooling solutions that has proven history in European markets to improve product quality, increase produce shelf life, reduce wastage and lower operating costs.

Since 1970 Heuch has worked to empower businesses and communities to be self-sufficient and economically sustainable by providing first rate HVAC-R engineering solutions and programmed maintenance services.

“Our focus is entirely on your business and how we can help provide a solution that covers the complete cold chain cycle. From harvest to processing to storage,” says Steve Oakley, the Managing Director of Heuch.

After winning the 2016 HVAC-R innovator of the year award, Heuch made its entry into the European fresh produce market at Fruit Logistica in Berlin during February, where it showcased its 100 per cent solar powered refrigeration container solution alongside Dutch company BG door.

Reaching agreements with companies such as Nijssen, Weber, Besseling and Softripe, Heuch Fresh are now providing the latest state of the art equipment in pre-cooling, vacuum cooling, controlled atmosphere (CA) and ripening rooms to farmers and providers of fresh vegetables, fruits and herbs with their success in solar integration and professional servicing. 

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Vacuum Cooling Advances Baking

This article first appeared in worldbakers.com

By Tudor Vintiloiu On Feb 27, 2019

Vacuum cooling has been around for decades, but it’s only today that the technology has reached a level of maturity high enough to gain widespread acceptance especially for bakery applications. Several reasons have prevented this acceptance before. Vacuum cooling bread.

The first is the fact that – contrary to all other vacuum cooling applications, for bread & bakery, vacuum cooling will directly influence the quality of the product, as the baking process continues in the cooler. One needs to understand the implications, and adapt their process to it, reducing baking times, increasing oven temperature and even sometimes modifying the proofing time and recipe. Failing to consider these modifications will prompt undesirable effects on product quality. Embracing the advantages the technology can bring, however, will result in premium bakery products, with respect to structure, volume, shelf life & optimum crispness.

Another reason has been the availability of (affordable) vacuum coolers suited for bakery applications.Heuch Fresh | Vacuum Cooler | Vacuum Cooling Bakery | Bread
Vacuum cooling professionals from Weber Cooling, Koenig-Rex and BVT Bakery Services shared their expertise with European Baker & Biscuit, in order to help us clarify some of the complexities of this technology.

End Product Benefits

Vacuum cooling can be used for almost all bread types. “Some bread types (like gluten free and products with high rye and wheat content or with a high water content) are more difficult to cool, but adapting both the vacuum cooler as well as the baking process, makes it possible to prepare even the most difficult product,” explains Hans Juursema, CEO of Weber Cooling.

He goes on to detail some of the undeniable benefits of using vacuum cooling:

– A larger volume, as during the cooling process there is a pulling effect on the bread, resulting in a volume increase;

– A more homogenous and tender internal structure, as the gelation process continues under vacuum, giving a finer structure, and even a whiter color;

– A crispier crust which will stay crispy for a longer time, as the moisture is

mostly sucked out (also for cookies: less moisture will lead to a longer crispness!);

– Longer shelf life, as less bacteria will be formed during the minimalized cooling time.

Patrick Duss, Executive Director Vacuum Cooling at BVT Bakery Services takes the argument even further by bringing up energy saving and food regulations:

“Roughly speaking we can see advantages in substantial savings of space, time and energy and an impressive improvement of the product quality.

The looks, volume, taste and healthiness of the products can substantially be improved due to vacuum cooling. Health authorities demand a serious reduction of sugar in future recipes and a chemical treatment of the bakery products nowadays is unwanted. In this respect vacuum cooling is no less than a game changer. A higher amount of water in the recipe (up to 4-12% ) without influence on the amount of evaporation, automatically reduces the percentage of other ingredients and leads to a better volume and taste,” he points out.

Working with Artisan Bakers

The customers can generally be divided into two groups: artisan versus industrial. Weber Cooling currently serves only the artisan customers, working with normal (rotary) ovens.

“Most economic advantages can be achieved with a capacity of three ovens, as you will be able to reduce your baking time by up to 40% (on average 30%). The installation of a vacuum cooler will bring you substantial more capacity; the more ovens, the more capacity you will gain! In practice, one vacuum cooler will serve up to 5 ovens, resulting in up to 2 “oven capacities” extra, free of charge,” the specialist with Weber Cooling explained.

The industrial customers require a continuous solution. This can be supplied by means of a multi-level vacuum cooling system. The investment level here is substantially higher; and the number of systems supplied here is still limited. For this market group Weber Cooling is currently designing its first solutions and expects to supply a first solution in 2019, Juursema with Weber Cooling said.

Talking about main advantages of using this technology in a bakery, quality increase should be the main driver, the specialist underlines.

“For gluten-free bakeries the introduction of vacuum cooling is a no-brainer; the advantages vacuum can bring are just that huge. With vacuum you can easily bake even the most difficult gluten free recipe and can produce bread which has a texture and bite comparable to normal bread”, said Juursema.

The economic advantages, however, also can play an important part, not only by increasing your capacity by up to 40%, but also because you can save on all your cooling costs and you can reduce your cooling space by 90%. Adding a vacuum cooler can bring you just so much more capacity – while reducing your space & cooling requirements at the same time.

Working with Industrial Bakers

Within the bakery industry, the specialists with BVT Bakery Services see different levels of demand. In a small and mid-size bakery, a system runs between 4 and 8 hours a day, 5-6 days a week. In the bakery industry a system has to be equipped to run 24/7, a year. This means the level of reliability and process knowledge is completely different and can only be offered after a process of development based on experience that has carefully been build up in years, the specialists explain.

Furthermore, the advantages and applications of vacuum technology in the food production is almost unlimited. Vacuum Cooling customers of BVT Vacuum can be found in a wide range of food production segments, from bakery to ready meals, pasta, vegetables, rice, etc. “In the baked goods business we start from approx. 1.000Kg per hour. One of our biggest installations reaches up to 22.000 kg/hour (in this case cake products). All our biggest systems are customized, ” Duss explains. There are no standard sizes, because of the variability of the oven size, product size etc. The majority of their customers produce on an industrial scale.

“A golden rule in the baked goods business is: the shorter the production process, the better the parameters can be controlled,” the expert added. Finally, the working principle of vacuum cooling is based on a physical law: reduction of the pressure reduces the boiling temperature of water. BVT Vacuum explains that the evaporation of water leads to lowering the temperature of the processed product. The energy produced in the baking is recovered with significant higher efficiency, resulting in a better energy balance. A conventional cooling system is based on less efficient cooling energy, in order to cool down the products.

Shortening the Process

Wolfgang Staufer, CEO of Koenig-Rex, explains that, in the past, loaves of bread often needed to be moved across cooling coils and cooled for hours. With vacuum technology, on the other hand, only a few minutes are usually sufficient to bring the products to the right temperature for cutting and/or packing.

Vacuum conditioning cools and stabilizes rolls, pastry or bread in only a few minutes for further use. This process stage streamlines the downstream logistics chain, increases product quality, improves efficiency of the oven and extends product shelf life. In addition to improving product quality and extending the shelf life, vacuum conditioning offers another decisive advantage in terms of baking: the process shortening. “By vacuum conditioning, the water content is minimized in the stabilized part-baked products and this results in reduced baking time. For example, brioche rolls become juicer in taste by stabilization in the vacuum conditioning and minimized baking time. There is no limitation to products: with various adjustable cooling curves and storable programs, vacuum conditioning makes it possible to simplify process steps for different kinds of baked goods,” the expert with Koenig-Rex added.

Part-baked frozen products such as bread, rolls, pastries, pizza products, cakes can already be precooled in the vacuum chamber. Partly baked, ready-made pizzas can be cooled quickly to prevent the soil from getting wet.

Koenig supplies industrial as well as small-sized bakeries worldwide with the adequate baking equipment. Industrial customers are rather interested in continuous vacuum conditioning for their automated bread production and mid-sized bakeries are often interested in batch vacuum conditioning and for delivering stabilized and vacuumed rolls to their bakery stores.

A Market Overview

The demand for vacuum cooling has grown in the recent years, both companies agree.

“The market is growing – as more and more bakeries see how others profit from the technology. The future driver for accelerated growth comes from Weber Cooling; we’ve reduced the average cost price of vacuum coolers by roughly 40 – 50 % and can offer vacuum coolers for the same price a customer now buys an oven; customers understand these price levels, and can easily calculate that their payback time now is reduced to only a few years!”, Juursema with Weber Cooling said.

On the other hand, Duss with BVT Vacuum remarked the growth in the past 3-5 years, based on the ability to produce reliable high-tech equipment. “We have the ability to produce reliable, high-tech equipment. Drivers for the future will be the high demand on convenience of the market and health restrictions of several products, in terms of clean label production, reduction on sugars and chemical treatment of products to improve shelf live. Needless to explain, the reduction of CO2 in the total footprint of the future food production process which has become a priority in all our customers view for the future,” the expert with BVT Vacuum concluded.

 

Visit Heuch Fresh Vacuum Cooling for more information.

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Montague Opens Brisbane Facility

This article first appeared in fruitnet.com

New site to be a catalyst for Australian company’s expected growth over the next 20 years

Montague opens Brisbane facility

Bill and Hamish Montague at the opening of the new facility

Leading Australian fresh produce company Montague has officially opened its new produce and packing facility at the Brisbane Markets site in Rocklea.

The state-of-the-art 5,578m2 facility is Australia’s first fully-automated, temperature-controlled environment, complete with a 24/7 monitored cold storage space and ripening rooms equipped with the latest European tarpless technology. The specialised equipment introduced in the facility, ensures the reduction of ethylene and airborne pathogens.

“We are excited to see this energy-efficient facility reach completion,” said Montague general manager of Queensland, Hamish Montague.

“Not only will this centre manage end-to-end logistics and distribution capabilities, but our latest environmentally-friendly refrigeration technology will allow us to continue to deliver the highest quality fresh produce every time to our customers in Queensland.”

The facility was officially opened this morning (20 September) by Montague founder Bill Montague, who handled a ceremonial ribbon cutting and plaque presentation. Brisbane Markets Limited chairman Tony Joseph, and Queensland minister for agricultural industry development and fisheries, Mark Furner, were among those in attendance.

“We worked very closely with Montague to deliver the purpose-built facility, which was designed with their specific business needs in mind and the result is an achievement we are justifiably proud of,” said Joseph.

Hamish Montague, Bill Montague, The Hon. Mark Furner, Tony Joseph

(l-r) Hamish Montague, Bill Montague, Mark Furner and Tony Joseph


The storage facility marks a substantial increase on the 1,000 pallets that Montague previously accommodated across its two Brisbane warehouses. It’s estimated that this advancement will be a catalyst in Montague’s expected growth over the next 20 years.


The opening comes just days after Montague broke ground on the construction of a new packing and distribution centre near its headquarters in Victoria.

Montague Family

The Montague family

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Heuch Targets Fresh Produce

Australian-based company believes solar power holds key to overcoming cool chain challenges

This article originally appeared in Fruitnet.com

Sensing an opening for affordable and reliable cooling technologies across the globe, Australian-based company Heuch has developed a suite of solar powered refrigeration solutions.

Originally designed for humanitarian applications in disaster stricken areas, the range rings true to the company’s vision of empowering businesses and communities.

“The 100 per cent solar powered cold chain provides communities and businesses with reliable and free access to electricity and refrigeration, without the uncertainly of supply, health and monetary costs associated with diesel powered generators or creating a stable grid connection,” explained Martin Oakley, Heuch’s business development manager.

Heuch is currently working with the Indonesian government to provide an entire cold chain solution for remote fishing communities in the Asian nation, while also looking to develop a solar powered milk chiller to suit small scale dairy farmers in India.

The company made its entry into the European fresh produce market at Fruit Logistica in Berlin during February, where it showcased its solutions alongside Dutch firm BG Door.

Oakley said the company’s solar chiller was an instant hit with growers and distributors, following 18 months of research and development testing at its manufacturing facility on the outskirts of Melbourne.

“The ability to set the desired beginning of a cold chain at the point of harvest, without any additional infrastructure, was attractive to those growers focused on harvest time, whilst others, such as potato farmers, were attracted to the prospect of no cost cold storage to extend the saleable life of their product,” Oakley told Fruitnet.

“Our solar powered dryer also attracted attention from mango growers, looking for more quality and consistency in the drying of their mangoes.”

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