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    Rights: University of Waikato. All rights reserved.
    Published 27 June 2014 Referencing Hub media

    Angus Brown discusses the physical facilities and equipment available at The FOODBOWL. The facility is designed to support and encourage food companies to develop new products and expand into new markets.


    Angus Brown
    The FOODBOWL comprises of seven multi-purpose export compliance suites.

    We have a high-pressure processing and thermo-forming unit in Suite A, and that’s designed around modified atmosphere packaging and non-thermal pasteurisation. This unit allows companies to pack foods under certain atmospheric conditions and also allows them to extend the shelf life of these particular foods without using any heat, so the food products remain fresher d tastier with the same nutrient profile that they did prior to the pasteurisation process.

    Suite B has a retort in it, which is a large steam oven, and that’s designed to pasteurise foods in cans, jars, pouches, bottles, so things like ginger beer, baby food. It’s very flexible. We can fill bottles, we can cap bottles, we can label jars at quite fast rates.

    Suite C is our wet goods room. That is designed to facilitate the production of sauces, chutneys, hummus, pâtés, dips, egg nog. It has an aseptic PET line that can do UHT, which is ultra heat treatment of milk and other dairy products and also non-dairy products. That pasteurises the product and fills it into a PET bottle aseptically, which means that the environment in the bottle once it’s filled and capped is completely sterile. This allows the product to last on the ambient shelf for up to 2 years, so for something like milk needing to be exported, that’s incredibly valuable.

    Suite D processes a lot of dry goods. We have a V blender, which is a very accurate blending machine designed to uniformly distribute different quantities of ingredients. We have an air-swept mill in Suite D, and that can mill up any type of dry material to a very fine powder. Also in Suite D, we have a Clextral twin-screw extruder. This is used to make extruded snack products such as Twisties or Cheezels.

    The freeze-drying suite at The FOODBOWL is an 80 litre per cycle extraction unit. You would put, say, frozen fruit in there, and then we would shut the chamber and then drop the vacuum, and when we drop the vacuum, the lack of pressure means the boiling point of water drops right down, and at that lack of pressure, when the water boils, it removes the water from the material without having to heat the product up, so you still retain all the nutrients and all the vitamins and minerals in the product without actually having to heat it.

    Our microwave unit could defrost an 18 kg frozen turkey in about 2 minutes. It’s very industrial, and it’s used for when companies bring in, say, frozen juice, they can defrost it in blocks at a very fast rate

    Our microwave room is also used to quickly defrost frozen meat products so that they can also be further processed and turned into value-added goods.

    Our final room is our product development kitchen. This is a lot like a commercial kitchen that you would often find in restaurants. This is where companies can develop up recipes to get the taste and the process right on that small-batch scale before they then want to scale up to one of our larger suites.

    Angus Brown, The FOODBOWL

    Chris Cullen, Culley’s
    William Laing, Richard Espley and Diane Brewster, Plant & Food Research
    Aseptic PET line footage courtesy of Xenos Aseptic Beverage Systems, NZ