These days there is a wide variety of food items available to us at grocery stores. The shelves are always fully stocked with plenty of options for consumers to purchase. All these food products go through a long journey filled with many processes before they arrive at the stores we shop in. There is a lot of important and helpful food machinery involved in these processes in order to make the journey as efficient as possible.
The start of this food distribution journey begins at food manufactures. This is where food products are created. From these food manufacturers, products then need to be transported to our grocery stores. In most cases, getting the final food product to consumers involves a distributor. Many of the large grocery store chains have their own distribution centers where food products can be delivered and are from there further distributed.
Oftentimes, the packaging process is also completed at these distribution centers. The packaging process helps to ensure the food items remain fresh and safe during transportation. Distribution centers use a lot of different food machinery to best achieve this. The various food equipment aids in the handling, preparation, and packaging processes. A well-known example of this type of equipment is a vacuum packaging machine. Vacuum packaging helps to preserve the food materials as well as makes it easier to transport and pack on grocery store shelves.
There are five main categories of food machinery that aid in the food distribution process. They are preparation, mechanical processing, heat processing, preservation, and packaging.
Preparation equipment is involved in the cleaning, sorting, peeling, and/or grading of raw food. The preparation stage is all about removing any foreign matter or contaminants, and also assessing the characteristics and sorting of the raw food. Some examples of food machinery involved in these processes include spray washes, sieves, soak tanks, pressure vessels, abrasive rollers, and more.
Mechanical Processing Machinery
Mechanical processing equipment is employed to reduce, homogenize, or enlarge food materials. This altering of form and/or size is done so that manufacturers can increase the efficiency of subsequent processes in the food distribution chain. This machine processing also allows for a greater range of food products to be created. Examples of food machinery that assist in this process include roll crushers, high shear mixers, drum blenders, pressure mills, high-speed agitators, and more.
Heat Processing Machinery
Heat processing equipment is used to heat up food materials. This causes physical, chemical, biochemical, and biological changes to food products. Altering these states can be used as a preservation method as it can destroy microorganisms that cause spoilage. Food materials can be heated up through various blanching, baking, roasting, dehydration, and frying methods. Some of the equipment used to achieve this includes steam blanchers, batch fryers, evaporators, various ovens, sterilizers, and more.
There is a significant overlap in heat processing machinery and preservation machinery. The preservation process is centered around inhibiting food materials from spoilage and increase their shelf-life through non-heated methods. There is a wide range of ways of achieving this from refrigeration to irradiation. All these methods aim to depress or destroy microorganisms. Various machinery is used to achieve this, including vacuum packaging machines, salts, smokers, acids, chillers, freeze dryers, cryogenic systems, and more.
After the processing and preparation stages, food materials undergo some form of a packaging process. Food packaging can provide containment, protection, convenience, and communication which greatly aids the distribution process and allows consumers to make informed decisions. The type of food packaging that a food material requires is influenced by its storage, handling, distribution, and marketing needs.
There is some additional food machinery needed to efficiently complete the food distribution process. This includes utility equipment (the resources needed to operate and maintain food processing), measurement and control equipment (ensures the food processing equipment operates correctly and accurately), material handling equipment (used to transport food materials through their various processing stages), storage equipment (allow food materials to be stored between their various processes), product distribution equipment (this equipment packs and prepares finished food products for transportation), and cleaning equipment (help to maintain a hygienic environment for food processing and distributing).
There is a wide selection of food machinery available for every aspect of the food processing and distribution journey. It is largely thanks to this equipment that food products are consistently and widely available to consumers as this equipment massively increases the efficiency in the food distribution process.