Food has been an essential commodity for humans for thousands of years. As humans, we consume food in all forms. Our prehistoric ancestors who discovered fire also found a way to cook food using the fire. It’s interesting to see how food processing evolved from the early fires to the sophisticated methods we see today.
According to a report, “The Indian food industry with a size of 61 billion US dollars, ranks 5th in terms of size, contributes nearly 6% of GDP, 13% of Indian exports, and involves 6% of total industrial investment in the country. Besides, it is estimated to grow at the rate of 20% of which the processed food segment accounts for 25%. “
Let’s start with the basics. What exactly is food processing?
Food processing is a technique used to transform raw ingredients into finished and semi-finished products. It involves a series of processes, with the help of sophisticated equipment, to convert these raw ingredients into edible and more palatable foods and beverages. Food processing is carried out to make food safe for consumption, improve taste, last long by increasing shelf-life and add nutrition.
What are the categories of processed foods?
The categories are as follows:
1) Minimally processed foods
This process requires minimal interference and is done only to maintain the original quality of fresh foods. It involves only cleaning, trimming, slicing, and storage at low temperatures.
Example: Cut fruits, Roasted Nuts
2) Preserved foods
All foods that are refrigerated, canned, and dried come under the category of ‘preserved foods’. This process is undertaken to slow down the spoilage of food and prevent any illnesses from unwanted microorganisms.
Example: Canned food
3) Manufactured Foods
These foods are processed using added ingredients that alter their basic, natural state. This process requires the use of natural or chemical preservatives.
Example: Fruit jams, pickles, papads.
4) Formulated Foods
These foods are a complex mixture of various ingredients resulting in the formation of a new food product much different from its original natural form.
Example: Bread, biscuits, ice-cream, cakes
5) Food derivatives
This process involves obtaining certain foods using a method.
Example: i) Sugar is obtained from sugarcane using the method of purification.
- ii) Conversion of oil to vanaspati using the method of hydrogenation.
6) Functional foods
These foods are made for the sole purpose of providing a beneficial effect on human health.
Example: Probiotic products such as yogurt, milk, etc.
7) Medical Foods
These food products are manufactured for a niche part of the society that suffers from intolerance and allergies to certain foods.
Example: Low sodium salt, Lactose-free milk.
Food processing equipment plays an important role in carrying out various food processes. Let’s understand the various kind of food processing equipment listed below:
1) Preparation Equipment
This equipment is used by food manufacturers to remove foreign matter and contaminants to avoid damaging the food or other food processing equipment in the supply chain.
The following processes are carried out by Food preparation equipment:
2) Mechanical Processing Equipment
Mechanical processing operations are undertaken to reduce, enlarge, homogenize, or otherwise change the physical form of solid, semi-solid, and liquid food matter. Food manufacturers alter the form and size of the food matter to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of the food for further processing.
The following processes are carried out by Mechanical Processing Equipment:
- Size Reduction
- Size Enlargement
3) Heat Processing Equipment
Heat Processing Equipment can influence not only the physical changes in the food material, but also bring about chemical, and biochemical changes. These changes transform and affect the overall quality of the resulting food products by altering their chemical structure or by enhancing their flavor.
The following processes are carried out by Heat Processing Equipment:
4) Preservation Equipment
The preservation stage of the food processing production cycle ultimately aims to prevent or inhibit spoilage of the food product and increase its shelf life. Preservation methods range from refrigeration to irradiation, each of which acts to destroy microorganisms and enzymes within the food material or, at the very least, limit and depress their activity.
The following processes are carried out by Preservation Equipment:
- Water Reduction
5) Packaging Equipment
Following the preparation and processing stages, food material generally undergoes one or more post-processing operations, which help to produce the final food product and complete the food processing production cycle.
The following processes are carried out by Packaging Equipment:
- Protection and Preservation
Businesses in the food industry require food processing equipment to produce or manufacture food. It’s no surprise that one requires the mind of an expert to guide these businesses about the process and the right knowledge of food processing equipment. The best people to guide them are Food Service Consultants.
Besides handling heavy finance and business strategies, these professionals are also trained in the science of food. They understand that the complexities of the food industry and have technical knowledge of processing/manufacture, research, and development, etc. Food Service Consultants acquire knowledge related to food chemistry, microbiology, food processing, safety/quality assurance, good manufacturing practices, and nutrition.
With a wide array of scientific knowledge and technical know-how, Food Service Consultants can guide anyone and everyone in the food business. Whether it is helping a chef prepare a menu for a restaurant or a small food manufacturer that produces confectionery items for the commercial market.
Food Service Consultants can:
- Analyze raw, cooked, or manufactured food for composition, quality, and safety.
- Study food ingredients used in food preparation processes and food production on a large scale.
- Guide food businesses with industrial practices, systems controls, distribution channels, consumer purchase patterns.
- Carry out sensory evaluation of the prepared food.
- Use information and technology to support food businesses on how to better their manufacturing processes and help them purchase better food processing equipment for their set-ups.
The best Food Service Consultants that have successfully guided great names in the food industry belong to the HPG Consulting Group. These professionals are industry experts when it comes to food processing, food technology, food preservation, food science, food spoilage, and food product development.
The HPG Consulting Group with its team of Food Service Consultants has helped hotels, restaurants, food manufacturers, institutes, etc with food processes, food technology, management, and operational strategies.
HPG’s Food Service Consultants are technically sound and can deliver results on every project promptly. These professionals are skilled to enhance their client’s intentions with creative designs and technical expertise. These trained experts can identify improvement areas for their clients and develop strategies to optimize their procedures and improve the bottom line.
HPG is a strong believer in feedback. Aligned with their client’s ideologies, the consultants at HPG conduct surveys with their client’s consumers and find out the satisfaction level for their client’s businesses. The feedback is analyzed and thoroughly studied and implemented.