Urbanization, the emergence of the middle class, the frantic pace of modern life, and the growing number of unmarried adults, and single-parent families: all these changes are revolutionizing our food habits and the global food processing chain is adapting accordingly. In developed economies, the last few decades have seen an explosion in consumer demand for foods that are ready to eat or cook and easy to save; this trend is now being seen in other parts of the world.
The key concern is no longer "homemade" versus ready dishes, but rather the quality of what is consumed. To meet this demand, the food processing industry is constantly looking for new ways to process products while preserving their nutritional value and flavor, while taking a responsible approach.
Did you know? Industrial gases play an essential role in meeting these challenges. Freezing, protection against oxidation, packaging, beverage carbonation… Whether in their pure form or in mixtures, gases are used at all stages of the agri-food chain, from agricultural production to in-store distribution, and in nearly every category of food: fish farming, fruits and vegetables, dairy products, fresh meats, cured meats, baked goods, prepared dishes, beverages.
Three testimonials are featured below, illustrating the essential role of industrial gases in the key stages of the food processing chain:
Industrial gases play a key role in the quality and conservation of end products starting with the production stage. In the field of oenology for example, winemakers use gases such as nitrogen or carbon dioxide in their vats during winemaking to slow down the oxidation process and preserve bottled wine.
“We have been using gases for ten years, in particular carbon dioxide, which helps protect the grape juice, necessary in fermentation and the finished wines. They are essential to continuously control the quality of our rosé wines and to avoid the oxidation of the grape must until the bottling phase" explains Jean-Paul Neu, Cellar Master at Château du Rouët (Var, France).
In supermarkets, as well as restaurants, hospitals and school canteens, gases guarantee the quality and preservation of frozen products. The freezing technique using nitrogen or carbon dioxide in liquid form has proven to be the most efficient solution, especially for fragile and easily perishable foodstuffs. This is the case at Red Bird, the largest supplier of fresh chicken products in Colorado (USA), where Air Liquide has set up a freezing process using a cryogenic tunnel.
“The challenge with fresh chicken is that it has a very limited shelf life. With the Nexelia solution, Air Liquide brings its knowledge into the company and helps us develop products that are high quality and safe for the consumer" explains Chris Delaney, Operations Manager at Red Bird.
Transporting food products to consumers requires complete ensurance of the cold chain to assure their conservation and quality. Refrigerated transport is evolving, and cryogenic technologies are at the forefront of this change. Discover the testimonial of the transporter Jacky Perrenot on the integrated Blueeze solution. This Air Liquide innovation helps maintain the cold chain while reducing noise and ensuring respect for the environment, thanks to a new technology using liquid nitrogen, an atmospheric gas.
Philippe Givone, CEO of Transport, Perrenot: "We opted for refrigerated transport using cryogenic nitrogen, a clean solution that ensures the quality of the cold chain and the security of food products. Together with our trucks that run on LNG, this allows us to offer clean and responsible transportation, enabling us to achieve our dual goal of being cleaner and quieter, by reducing noise and our carbon footprint. This is ideal for night-time deliveries in urban areas, as well as for the comfort of our drivers and residents".