Food processing typically is the transformation of cooked ingredients into food or other forms through a process that involves physical or chemical means. The main focus is to make food into an easily marketable product that the consumer can easily prepare and serve. There are various processes involved in it such as liquefaction, emulsification, mincing, macerating, boiling and frying. These are called the secondary stages of preparation while the primary stage of making the ingredients fit for processing are dicing, slicing, drying or freezing. The final section is of course preservation, packaging and canning.
There are many benefits of processed food. Toxins are removed and the food is preserved through chemical treatme4nts that ensures food consistency over long periods. Additionally, easily perishable food and fruits can be transported over long distances as the risk of contamination is nullified through processing. See the shelf of super markets and you will find cans and packages of processed food from the other end of the world. This also helps to solve the problems usually associated with storing fresh food and alleviates possible food shortages. During natural disasters like earthquakes and floods, it is processed food that enables people to survive before getting back returning to normal life.
If you were setting up a food processing plant in the state of say Victoria, what would be your first task? Apart from contacting Melbourne business lawyers to go through the contracts and other legal and statutory formalities, it would be looking for suitable equipment to set up your processing facilities. You can either buy equipment off the shelf or second hand depending on your financial standing and the type of food that you want to process.
Here is a list of the broad categories of food processing machinery.
- Depositors –These are machines that precisely measure and deposit the finished product into packaging. These can range from biscuits and cookies to salad dressing, from sandwich fillings to mustard and mayonnaise, honey, marmalade or salsas. These are the same machines that are used for non-food items too like shampoos or gels.
- Extruders – Processed food is a very competitive industry and hence businesses are opting for more and more complex offerings to stay ahead in the race as well as to match consumer preferences. Single or twin crew extrusion machines are used to mould out-of-the-ordinary shapes topped up by multi-flavoured exotic flavours and fillings. In bakery food items, multiple screw extrusion machines are used for virtually any colour and filling like creams, chocolate praline and fruit pastes.
- Mixers – These is a wide range of applications for Mixers which are used in almost every sector of the food processing industry. These include agitators, Emulsifiers, meat mixers, paste mixers, powder mixers, ribbon mixers, viscous product mixers and Z blade mixers. Dough mixers, Homogenisers and in line mixers are some of the other types of mixers used in food processing.
- Refrigerators – This is very crucial for the food processing sector. Some manufacturing processes do need temperatures to be lowered to almost zero degree conditions. Equipment needed for this include blast freezers, continuous chillers, immersion chillers, scraped surface chillers, spiral freezers and vacuum chillers. Refrigeration equipment is also an integral part of logistics when packaged items have to be kept refrigerated over long distances from the factory to the warehouses.
These are some of the basic equipment that you have to get if you want to start off in the food processing industry.