Sustainability is a key challenge for the food industry and processors globally are recognising their part in safeguarding the future.
As the world’s population continues to grow, so does the demand for food products. In 2020, the global production of potatoes exceeded 359 million tons and global demand for frozen potato is rising rapidly.
Greater volume of production is leading to increased pollution and waste levels, and many processors are now actively engaged in sustainability reporting. Global Reporting Standards (GRS) are helping processors assess (and define) their sustainability strategies, to better manage and understand their impact.
Sustainable potato processing is possible
To achieve their sustainability goals, processors are investing significantly in equipment which helps — reduce fuel costs, energy waste, air pollution and water consumption — and meets the rigorous pollution control regulations of the world-wide agencies.
While modern processing equipment must address all the themes of sustainability — it must also improve efficiency and profitability — if it is to be adopted widely, in the future.
As interest in sustainable technologies grows, turnkey suppliers are helping processors plan their factories of the future and are assisting them to adopt or upgrade their existing equipment, to process more responsibly.
Multiple technologies are already available which can reduce fuel costs, energy waste, air pollution, and water consumption. Working with a turnkey supplier is a great way for a processor to access expertise — and understand the new and emerging technologies — for sustainable potato processing.
Create positive change with the right equipment
Heat and Control’s KleenHeat Heat Exchanger is a great example of a pollution control solution, which has been developed to combine the incineration of fryer exhaust pollutants with high-efficiency oil heating; to help processors meet emission control regulations.
This innovatively designed heat exchanger is a versatile oil heating, energy saving and pollution control solution which is described as ‘Best Available Control Technology’ (BACT) by regulatory agencies worldwide.
KleenHeat exceeds the thermal efficiency of ordinary heat exchangers, which don’t offer pollution control, and low oil volume promotes fast oil turn-over which inhibits formation of free fatty acids.
KleenHeat offers processors high energy efficiency oil heating; with built in pollution control to remove oil, odours, and particulates from the fryer exhaust. The rapid and uniform heat transfer facilitated by this equipment allows the fryer to respond quicker to changes in product load. This protects the quality of the oil by maintaining a low, oil film temperature.
With KIeenHeat, there is no need to invest in additional fryer pollution control systems, and a variety of sizes are available which can be provided: ready-to-run, pre-piped and wired, and fully compliant with US, EC, and Australian regulations.
Multiple solutions to process more responsibly
In potato production, it’s no secret that oil management can be expensive. Custom designed, oil management solutions have been developed to maximise oil quality — reduce oil pollution — and maximise energy savings, for sustainable and environmentally-safe operations.
One such system is the Heat and Control Oil Sweep De-oiling system. This oil management solution is used by processors of French fries, potato wedges and potato co-products; to strip their fried products free of surface oil, prior to freezing and packing. Stripped oil is recovered through a bank of cyclones and returned to the fryer oil recovery system. Solid fines are separated, and reusable oil is transferred back into the frying system.
The typical oil pick-up on French fries is around six to eight per cent. While much of this oil is contained within the fries themselves, this system has been designed to recover most of the free surface oil, which results in increased yields and healthier finished products. In addition, less product surface-oil improves the performance of the defrosting and cleaning cycles of the pre-cooler and freezer and helps reduce oil particles clogging cooling coils in the pre-cooler.
Processors benefit from lower operational costs thanks to decreased downtime for maintenance, and energy savings (from greater cooling efficiency) can help them realise their sustainability goals. The Oil Sweep system can be retrofitted into existing lines and has low maintenance requirements.
In a recent installation, Heat and Control delivered a complete French fry system which included the Oil Sweep De-oiling system, and a flexible batter coating system which featured a two-stage, multi-zone cooking feature with customisable cooking conditions, for coated and uncoated French fries. The Oil Sweep system is now helping the processor achieve production capacities of 18,000 kg/hr (37,400 lbs/hr). This installation demonstrates how working with a single source equipment supplier can help adopt or upgrade equipment to process more responsibly.
When water is used for product or equipment cleaning purposes; increasing the use of recycled water can offer many benefits. High levels of water usage are costly for processors. The Water Cleanup System from Heat and Control (used with the slice washing system) can reduce fresh water usage by up to 50 per cent, over conventional slice washing systems. This system is designed to clean and reuse wash water, to concentrate starch and fines for more efficient removal, and this reduces sewer loading and burden on the starch recovery system in the line.
Also developed by Heat and Control is the Oil Mist Eliminator, which removes oil mist from the fryer exhaust — without water or high-horsepower fans — and a heat recovery system which recovers typically lost heat from the fryer exhaust stack. It condenses otherwise wasted steam to make hot water for blanching, sanitising, or building heat, and it is the adoption of innovative equipment such as this, that will future-proof factories for sustainability.
Integration of new and emerging sustainable technologies — will help potato processors achieve greater production efficiency — and reduce their environmental footprint. When sourcing equipment, processors should look for solutions that incorporate innovative manufacturing designs; to reduce pollution and waste levels. Working with a turnkey supplier is the easiest and simplest way to do this and will help the processor achieve significant return on their investment.