EnWave revealed it has signed confidentiality agreements with firms in North and South America, Europe and Korea to trial its nutraREV dehydration technology on an expansive range of foods - including herbs, mushrooms, bananas, mangos, pineapples, peppers, tomatoes, garlic, snack chips, shrimp, and salmon.
The Canadian company explained it had launched the system in 2009 and sold its first licence to Cal-San, a domestic producer of dried puffed blueberries for the snack food, baking and cereal markets. Its president predicted the system would “revolutionise the value-added food processing sector.”
EnWave said the system is more efficient than the freeze-dried process and can typically cut costs by more than three quarters.
“We have found nutraREV can deliver cost savings of around 80 per cent compared to traditional freeze drying methods,” Jennifer Thompson vice president corporate development and investor relations told FoodProductionDaily.com. “It is also much quicker. For example, it processes berries in 40 minutes when the freeze-dried method can take two or three days.”
Cost-savings come from reductions in energy usage and labour thanks to the faster processing times, added Thompson.
The nutraREV technology combines microwave energy transfer with pressure control to dehydrate and alter structures and drive chemical reactions. This creates unique product characteristics for both food products and medical applications, claimed the company.
“Vacuum microwaving has been available for some time but we have solved the problem of arcing - caused by plasma discharge - which burns the product undergoing dehydration,” said Thompson.
Other advantages of the system are foodstuffs retain colour, shape and flavour as well as, or better than, freeze-dried produce. Shelf-life of products is also the same. The dehydration system also offers more flexibility on retention of moisture content, which can create extra market opportunities for the food, said the firm. The same fruits can be processed for different lengths of time to appeal to separate markets. In the case of berries, chewy for the snack segment, crunchy for breakfast cereals or powdered for nutraceuticals.
Capital outlay plus royalty fee
The machines cost somewhere between $800,000 and $1m. The company also charges a royalty fee of up to a 10 per cent on gross sales of the food products processed using the technique.
Of its bid to expand its client base, EnWave said it had supplied the treated food samples to the prospective clients and was waiting for a verdict that it hoped would turn into contracts.
Thompson said: “There is no guarantee any of these will turn into a sale but we are signalling to the market that we are expanding our product range.”
John McNicol, company president and Co-CEO, said. “Since winning the Food Expo Innovation award earlier this year, nutraREV technology is now being recognized on a global scale as a very real alternative to antiquated freeze drying methods.”