Publication : Food & Beverage Processing

By: Dinesh Gupta, Director, Bry-Air | Food & Beverage Processing | December 2020

Food is one of the most crucial subjects for any economy to sustain its population and its future needs. Worth $400 billion, in India too, the sector has been identified as one of the key focus areas under multiple initiatives undertaken by the current government. Other than producing its own large variety of food products on a regular basis, India is also amongst the biggest exporters of processed food across the world.

And that is one of the major reasons that the FnB industry lays a lot of focus on the quality, processing, and packaging of the end product. Ensuring that the food item meets all the necessary standards and checks before exported. The focus on the overall quality has made majority of the industry players realise the importance of investing in sophisticated technologies. To manage the growth fuelled by consumer demand of packaged, ready to eat, hassle-free food, these players are quickly adopting environment control solutions that are used at various steps of food production, till packaging and storage.

Now, given the diversity of ingredients used for a certain food item, its processing and following the packaging standards it is like a default process to ensure that there is no damage or harm to the food item because of any external factors. However, there is one external factor that often plays the role of a party spoiler and can be torture for any producer of food and beverage items: The Moisture in the air.

Micro-organisms and bacteria grow rapidly in presence of humid air and keeping the food safe is a real day-to-day struggle for the food companies. In today’s world, the popularity of processed food, for example, dried vegetables and fruits, seafood and meat, frozen food, Indian sweets, namkeens, spices, milk powder, etc., has increased manifold. Therefore, it becomes imperative to tackle the moisture menace during storage, drying, processing and packaging to ensure safety, retain the taste and give the products a longer shelf life. In fact, product drying solutions are most sought after by the food processing companies.

Moisture control is essential in every segment of the food industry in the spheres of storage, production, packing, or processing. For instance, in areas near the sea belt, the humidity is higher, and it is exasperating when salt from the saltshaker refuses to flow. Now put the packaging and processing machinery in the same situation, sticky powders can interfere with the operation and obstruct the free and easy movement of the foodstuff. Something as simple as an instant juice powder or drink mix becomes a double problem. Not only the powder mix lump refuses to flow smoothly in humid conditions, it also hinders the functioning of the packaging equipment.

Sugary products such as jellies, chocolates, hard candies, chewing gums, bubble gums, etc. are hygroscopic. When the humidity is high, these products regain moisture and become sticky and prone to mould formation. The other major problem faced by the confectionery industry is of uneven coating.

Uncontrolled humidity/moisture during the manufacturing and coating process of confectionery (chocolates, candies, sweet snacks) is responsible for change in the structure/dimension of the film core interface, grainy and irregular coating, increase in residual moisture content and improper adhesion i.e. degradation of coating quality in the presence of moisture.

Even snack foods like potato wafers, namkeens, corn chips, popcorn, noodles etc. absorb moisture from the surrounding air during processing and become soggy. The presence of moisture also results in sweating in the cooling tunnel in the packaging equipment. To keep snacks crisp and fresh, dehumidification is extremely important.

During the processing of powder foods such as milk powders, spices (masalas), additives, whey powders, soup concentrates, egg powder, coffee powder etc., the presence of moisture in the air can cause lumping and caking.

This affects the free and easy movement of the food and beverage powders in the processing machine and pneumatic conveyors. High humidity in the processing and packaging chambers can result into inconsistent product quality and production, longer drying time, rapid downtime and production loss.

Obviously, when moisture can have such a profound effect on food and/or machinery, the solution lies in dehumidifying the air. Proper dehumidification ensures optimum humidity control as required by the process and are dependable, efficient and versatile. Dehumidification allows smooth powder flow even during periods of high humidity. Desiccant based dehumidifiers lower the moisture content of the surrounding air maintaining RH as low as 1 % at a constant level regardless of the ambient conditions during the production, storage, and packing to help improve the quality and retain the freshness of the processed food longer.

Food and Beverage companies’ world over are deploying innovative dehumidification technology that requires minimal manual intervention, are highly energy-efficient, and are extremely helpful in increasing throughput by reducing cost and time. Understanding the need for the dehumidification solution and proper implementation is saving FnB players across the globe a lot of money by minimising the risk of the stock going bad even before it reaches the food table.

Bry-Air Dehumidifiers are designed to comply with the most complex and critical requirements of high humidity and moisture removal/ regain during manufacturing. It helps prevent mould/fungal growth, condensation prevention, loss of key product characteristics, malfunctioning and inconsistency thereby preventing production losses/ rejections and reduced shelf life. Over the year Indian players in the dehumidification products and solutions industry have earned a good name for themselves by coming up with cutting edge solutions made in India for the world. They have and are successfully serving various national and international players to serve their varied dehumidification needs.

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