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SpaniSh Machinery for food production
ph oto courtesy of giro
Olive oil, chorizo, sherry, fine cheeses, and traditional
tapas have earned spain a worldwide reputation for
gustatory delights. spanish companies have also achieved
international recognition for the quality of their agriculture
machinery, food processing, and packaging, which is sold to
customers in hundreds of countries that represent nearly
every major market around the world.
in southern spain, the sun shines nearly all year long,
providing energy for its wealth of crops, which have
made the region a breadbasket not just for spain, but
for much of the rest of europe. in 2010, spain exported
more than 9.4 million tons of fruits and vegetables.
food and wine have long been a source of national
pride here, and a major attraction for the more than
70 million tourists who visit every year. “Then those
tourists go home, and they want to continue consuming
the olive oil, the wine, the oranges that they ate in spain,”
observes Jaime Hernani, general director of AGeX, the
spanish association for food production machinery.
This has stimulated a boom in the export of not only
spanish products, but spanish know-how in irrigation,
cultivation, and cleaning, separating, processing,
and packaging those agricultural products. spanish
companies that manufacture machinery for food
production, he adds, have been selling their advanced
technology throughout e urope, no rth America, and
Asia for more than two decades.
fAsT, sAfe fOOd PrOCessinG
Cured meat has been around at least since the time of the Romans,
who ground fresh meat, salted it, and infused it with spices; fermented
it to fuse the mass together; then allowed the meat to hang and dry
for two to three months. The final products, such as salami, chorizo,
and dry-cured sausage, are still popular today.
Josep Lagares, CEO of Girona’s Metalquimia, working with
Institute of Agricultural Research and Technology (IRTA) general
manager Josep Maria Montfort, believed it was time for a change.
Instead of a drying period that stretches out over several months,
“We have reinvented this process to be able to dry these products
in 20 to 50 minutes,” says Lagares.
Metalquimia’s innovation was to slice the meat before curing it, then
send it through a machine that tweaks the humidity and temperature
of the air inside to create the perfect curing conditions. The result:
identical slices of cured meat. Its first industrial-scale machine, which
can process 800 pounds of meat per hour, has been installed on the
premises of the company’s local partner, Casa de Mon.
Lagares sees endless opportunities for this machine. “For
instance, [typically] if you want to try a new product in dry cured
meat, you have to wait for months to see the results. With Met-
alquimia’s [machine], you have the results in one day,” he explains,
adding that this technology will allow users to cure salt-free meat
products, impossible with traditional techniques. And that’s not the
only benefit: Lagares points out that the space needed for meat dry-
ing can be reduced significantly, while a company can avoid having
excess stock drying for months. This cure uses about 30 percent
less energy than what many environments require to maintain the
ideal temperature and humidity for long-term curing.
A focus on storage inspired Burgos-based NC Hyperbaric, whose
technology improves the shelf life of minimally processed foods.
In fact, according to marketing director Francisco Purroy, the com-
pany’s continued dramatic growth can be attributed to two interna-
tional movements. “There’s a consumer trend towards foods and
products that can be labeled as natural, minimally processed with
no preser vatives,” points out Purroy. “At the same time, there’s con-
cern about [food-borne pathogens such as] listeria and salmonella.”
NC Hyperbaric makes machinery that can kill pathogens in food
without high temperatures, relying instead on extraordinarily high
6/2/2011 9:41:43 AM
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