Offering convenience and the benefits of eating healthily without having to worry about the sell-by date, frozen vegetables is an industry which is expected to experience huge growth over the next decade. Worth US$18.18 billion globally in 2021, the segment is expected to reach a total worth of US$27 billion by 2029, with an annual growth rate of over 5%, according to Data Bridge Market Research.
However, at the same time food processors across the globe are under enormous energy price and inflationary pressures, meaning that making savings is ever bit as important as growing the market.
JBT Urtasun’s innovative new Blancher for vegetable processors helps meet both needs. Combining energy efficiency and an ultra-hygienic design, the Urtasun Blancher draws on some 40 years’s experience in developing solutions for the frozen vegetable industry.
Urtasun started as a family company in the Ebro Valley in the Spanish province Navarra, a zone famed for its agricultural production. Company founder Pedro Urtasun established the company to provide services to local farmers, but it wasn’t until 2004 that the firm started to bring its vegetable processing solutions to international customers; a process that was accelerated further when the company became part of JBT in November 2021.
While recent times have taken Urtasun from being a family-run business to being part of a leading multinational, Managing Director Francisco Palacios emphasizes that Urtasun’s expertise and years of knowledge in developing winning solutions for vegetable processors remain firmly in place.
One such solution is the Urtasun Blancher. “The purpose of the Blancher is to reduce the bioburden of a product and also to increase its shelf-life to a far longer period than if it had been frozen from fresh,” explains Palacios.
But far from simply carrying out a single task, the new Urtasun Blancher in reality performs two functions: blanching vegetables, as its name suggests, followed by cooling them without having to move the products to another piece of equipment. “In terms of functionality, the Blancher in effect blanches and cools vegetables in the same integrated unit,” Palacios continues.
One of the most important functions of the system is its energy consumption. The energy that the system takes from a product during cooling is absorbed by water, which is used during the pre-blanching process in order to higher the temperature of the product to 50-55C. “We save heat from the first stage of warming the product; during the final stage we lower the temperature to 4-5C above the temperature of the water that was used for cooling,” says Palacios.
Demand for blanchers using steam to blanch the product in the vegetable processing industry has increased over recent years, he continues, however traditional blanching systems typically do not deliver efficient energy consumption when using steam. Delivering a new standard of energy efficiency using steam, the Urtasun Blancher helps customers lower bills while at the same time increasing overall efficiency by combining blanching with cooling in the same piece of equipment.
However, the advantages of the Urtasun Blancher don’t stop there. To maximize hygiene and minimize the time required for cleaning, the blancher has been redesigned to make it fully accessible.
“The new Urtasun Blancher is a revolutionary system in terms of its design for steam distribution,” adds Palacios. “We have achieved circular steam distribution from bottom to top, which guarantees a consistent temperature of warm air.”