WHY PRODUCING IQF ARTICHOKES IS A SMART BUSINESS STRATEGY FOR PROCESSORS
Modern and efficient freezing technologies like the Individually Quick Frozen (IQF) method has made the idea of frozen foods more appealing for today’s health-conscious consumers and IQF artichokes are no exception. Artichoke consumption and production are on the rise and it follows the growth of the global frozen vegetable market which was valued at over $25 million in 2016 and is expected to reach $35 million by 2023 (Business Wire). Overall, the global frozen food market is expected to grow with a compound annual growth rate of 5.2% between 2017-2023 (Research and Markets), reaching 751 million tons by 2027 (RFF).
There is a growing worldwide appetite for artichokes and this is powered by increased demand from the convenience food sector. This demand for high-quality IQF artichokes will continue to be fueled by the fastest growing segments of the frozen food industry—frozen ready-made meals and frozen vegetables. While convenience is upwardly trending, the awareness of healthy, minimally processed, and natural food also affects the overall market. This is where IQF technology and modern equipment prevail as they are key to creating the best, high-quality IQF artichoke with a natural appearance and with no added preservatives which makes the end-product more appealing for consumers and the processors’ bottom line.
“IQF processing is more beneficial than canning as you lose more nutrients when canning vegetables versus when freezing them.”
Research has shown that IQF processing is more beneficial than canning as you lose more nutrients when canning vegetables versus when freezing them (UC Davis). Freezing is more efficient in preserving the taste, smell, and retention of vital nutrients (CBI). Some sectors show growth in value, though generally volume sales decline across the canning market (Food Manufacture) – this trend represents why transitioning from canning to freezing could be a smarter strategic move for processors in the near future.
IQF artichoke processors can maximize profitability by increasing the production yield and offering a premium quality IQF product. This can only be achieved by using the right technology in the pre-processing and freezing stages. When properly processed, IQF artichokes can be as healthy, and in some cases healthier, than its fresh counterpart. This is one of the main reasons that its market share is increasing in the frozen food sector.
“The optimal technology used for these stages can increase yield, improve energy efficiency and help achieve premium quality IQF artichokes.”
Because of their tough exterior, processing frozen artichokes takes careful preparation. Artichokes are great for IQF processing but only after being blanched and subsequently chilled. They should not be frozen raw as they will oxidize upon thawing which negatively affects the end quality of the product in its appearance and taste.
There are three main processing stages when producing IQF artichokes: Blanching, Chilling, and IQF Freezing. The optimal technology used for these stages can increase yield, improve energy efficiency and help achieve premium quality IQF artichokes. A higher yield means more kilos of IQF artichokes with the same investment on raw material, manpower, and energy. Considering the vast volumes of products that can pass through a factory in one year, a higher yield is the most effective way to increase profits.
Blanching is the flash cooking of vegetables in boiling water or steam for a short period of time. This is done to halt enzymatic activity in the product. Optimal blanching time is critical for preserving flavor, color, shape, and structure of the product.
The chilling stage is very important as a low temperature of the chilled product improves the IQF freezer’s performance and product quality (longer time between defrost, higher capacity, and less lump formation).
IQF freezing artichokes is all about good separation, gentle processing, preserving the shape of the product, and keeping the capacities high.
“Energy efficiency and higher yield make the OctoFrost™ IQF processing line the optimal solution for IQF artichoke.”
The OctoFrost™ IF Blancher achieves significantly faster heat transfer due to the impingement rain shower system. The high volume of recirculated water that falls over the product results in a shorted blanching time in order to avoid over-cooking. Meanwhile, the OctoFrost™ IF Chiller can chill products significantly faster through its impingement rain shower system. The system is designed to reach a product core temperature of 5°C or less. The quick chilling with the OctoFrost™ IF Chiller improves overall yield, energy efficiency in the freezer, and end-product quality. Lastly, the OctoFrost™ IQF Freezer, with its adjustable fan speeds and unique aerodynamics, gently transports the IQF artichokes towards the outfeed without compromising the shape or quality of the product.
The OctoFrost™ IQF processing line helps IQF producers worldwide achieve high-quality IQF products that can be sold at premium prices in supermarkets all around the world. Energy efficiency and higher yield make the OctoFrost™ technology the optimal solution for IQF artichokes.