Food is an essential element that fuels the entire body, while contributing to the overall health of a person. But over the years, there has been a paradigm shift in the consumption of food. Owing to the busy lifestyle, coupled with rapid urbanization and evolving consumer preferences, people nowadays are invariably finding solace in packaged food for the supreme convenience it has to offer. Providing a fresh and durable alternative, the packaged food industry stands at a very interesting cusp of transformation, opening great opportunities for the Indian food processing market.

Read: February Issue of Food Infotech Magazine.

Looking at the surging demand for packaged food, the Indian Food Processing Market is poised to grow at a phenomenal rate. Consequently, this puts a lot of responsibility on the industry players to closely monitor the quality, processing and packaging of food products to meet the highest quality standards outlined for the industry. In this pursuit, food drying forms an essential step in maintaining the quality of food for a longer period of time. It is one of the most common methods used to mitigate moisture menace during food preservation.

Moisture acts as a major deterrent in the food industry. If left unattended, it can incessantly meddle with the quality of the food. From snacks to spices to confectionery, instant juice powders, health foods, packaged fruits and vegetables, dried fruits and many other items are highly hygroscopic in nature. Even after drying, they tend to absorb moisture from the environment. Considering that moisture is a precursor of microbial growth, it can severely affect consumer health.

Taking the instance of confectionery packaging such as chocolates, sweets, etc. moisture immensely accounts for the loss of gloss while deteriorating the texture by leaving behind a sticky and grainy surface. Causing further damage by dampening the food, it also gives rise to a condition called sugar bloom, which brings the sugar to the surface and significantly compromises the flavour of the confectionery.

Similarly, in candies, gummies, jellies, etc., moisture meddles with the properties of the food product and degrades the quality. If not processed and packaged at the correct temperature, the jellies tend to ooze out and give the product a very sticky texture, making it messy and causing hygiene problems. In candies, moisture results in an uneven coating or discolouration of the product.

In the same way, snacks such as corn chips, potato wafers, popcorn, noodles, etc. to name a few become soggy due to humidity. Loss of crispiness and crunchiness are the most common consequences arising from moisture, translating to a decline in sales and sabotaging the brand’s reputation at the same time.

In powdered items such as coffee, spices, instant juice or beverage mix, moisture leads to clumping that causes stickiness and prevents the powder from flowing freely and clogs the filling system, which can damage the packaging equipment. In addition to this, it can cause caking, which significantly disrupts the operations by sticking to the conveyor belt. At the same time, moisture in spice can compromise its volatile aroma and reduce its freshness, causing the product to spoil.

To ensure the quality of food is kept intact, it is of prime importance to remove moisture during food processing until the time of packaging. This invariably enhances the quality of food throughout the shelf life. To achieve this, drying food at low temperatures under regulated and stable environmental conditions can go a long way in retaining the quality of food with its natural taste, aroma and colour.

Since food drying is very important for the food and beverage industry, it necessitates installing advanced dehumidification technologies at the place of processing to get rid of even the slightest trace of moisture available in the food. Nowadays, highly advanced and energy-efficient desiccant dehumidifiers are used to achieve low dew point. Desiccant-based dehumidifiers effectively reduce the moisture content and maintain the desired relative humidity. It ensures a bacteria-free environment with a dry air supply that increases food quality while maintaining freshness. As a result, the systems come with the ability to optimally control moisture for smooth food processing ensuring longer shelf life.

Gauging the surging demand for processed food in the market, deploying dehumidification can immensely contribute to empowering the food preservation prospects. Coming with the ability to retain the freshness, taste, colour and aroma of the food, while curtailing the growth of microorganisms, it can give a boost to the entire food and beverage industry by fortifying the food processing operations.

About the Author:
Dhirendra Choudhary, CEO,
Bry-Air (Asia) Pvt. Ltd.

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Author

An editor by day & dreamer at night; passionately involved with both print and digital media; Pet lover; Solo traveller.

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