The global processed food industry is expected to experience significant growth in the next few years as meal consumption behaviour amongst consumers is shifting drastically, according to the study “Convenience Food Market – Global Industry Analysis 2015 – 2019 and opportunity assessment; 2020 – 2030”. Convenience foods like chicken nuggets remain extremely popular, with many people choosing this classic meal when they are pressed for time or for on-the-go consumption.
Meeting the demand for one of the world’s most popular fast food items takes a lot of nuggets, and GEA is now offering a completely automated line solutions that can process tons of them per hour, taking only six minutes for a nugget to complete the production line.
GEA has perfected technology that takes the product from meat delivery through grinding, mixing, forming, coating, cooking, frying, and freezing in one seamless, fully automatic process. The company offers a complete data-connected production set-up that ensures consistent high-quality products making efficient use of resources, energy, and labor in meat manufacturing. Key to the whole process is the GEA MaxiFormer that features a unique step-fill system which fills each cavity consistently to ensure shape retention without peaks on the filling or wastage from smearing.
“Having different suppliers means that the customer is responsible for the integration of the machines in the line. We can provide a complete solution, taking that stress away and saving manufacturers time and money,” Luuc van Lankveld, GEA’s Product Expert on Processing said. “Everything is important. The mixing of ingredients, the cooking temperatures, the way you apply the coating to ensure that satisfying crispy crunch, feel and taste. As a solution provider we know the business from A to Z and employ food technologists to help meet specific customer requirements and optimize the whole process.”
The formed and coated nuggets are flash fried, as GEA’s frying equipment is designed to meet the highest food safety standards before going through the GEA CookStar three-phase spiral oven, where steam and heat are added. Steam contains a lot of latent heat and is therefore very effective in transferring energy into the nugget. Due to the higher humidity less moisture is lost, therefore producing higher yields. The freezing processes are also extremely temperature-sensitive, with batches of chicken nuggets frozen to minus 18 degrees Celsius, for distribution and further cooking. In addition to supplying the equipment, GEA’s food technologists are on hand to provide customer support and guidance that takes the guesswork away.