Chill and retherm: Blast chilling and blast freezing in retail environment

In a modern retail food environment, freshness is both sought after by customers and strived for by owners and operators. Although the prepared food section of your local supermarket or grocer could be a boon to the company’s success, waste can easily detract from those gains. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Economic Research Service, the retail food industry in America discards more than 30 percent of the meals it aims to sell for one reason or another.

Strategies for fresh, ready-made meals can sometimes force grocers to subvert their own best intentions – instead of letting valuable surplus resources spoil, businesses would much rather prepare these foods immediately in hopes they’ll be bought up. Sometimes they are – at a steep discount – while other times they go uneaten. Thankfully, retail blast freezing can provide the prepared food section with an alternative.

“Blast freezers chill food so quickly, they halt the metabolic processes that cause foods to go bad.”

What is a blast freezer?
Like a standard refrigerated freezer, blast freezing and chilling equipment keeps ingredients and cooked foods cold. But they even go a step further – blast freezers chill food so quickly, they halt the metabolic processes that cause perishable foods like meats and produce to go bad and retain nutrients as well as quality for the long term. As a result, users preserve a greater volume of foodstuffs without sacrificing taste and texture upon pulling these items from deep freeze. This advantage provides supermarkets and grocery stores several wins when it comes to kitchen operations.

Promotes use of all-natural ingredients
Many supermarket and grocery store customers shy away from products with preservatives, hormones and other chemicals in favor of purer ingredients. That said, however unwanted these additives may be, some actually do help preserve food and protect it against microbial contamination. As the prepared food market trends toward more organic, additive-free ingredients, the supermarket must enhance methods to maintain and manage foods without using such additives. To that end, flash freezing equipment answers the call.

Retains resource spend
As demand fluctuates for prepared foods at a given grocery supplier, procurement rates will also be subject to change. However, even under the strictest oversight, businesses may still accidentally order more resources than anticipated. Should these companies, for lack of a better word, “eat” these costs? Blast freezing technology offers a solution, as well as insurance for procurement inconsistencies.

For example, rotisserie chickens can be flash frozen and thawed at a more fortuitous sales opportunity with little to no impact on its quality. Unlike standard freezers that draw out the cooling process – along with flavor and nutrients – blast freezing exposes ingredients and ready-made meals to extreme cold as fast as possible to minimize damage done during typical freezing. As such, supermarkets don’t have to scramble to figure out what to do with excess fresh food before time takes its toll.

“For JIT, logistics must be on point 100 percent of the time to keep supply consistent.”

Enhances on-site inventory capabilities
Just-in-Time inventories are all the rage in the world of lean business – manufacturers and process industries use JIT services to reduce on-site inventory management costs and open up more space for added operations. Grocers and supermarkets utilizing similar daily delivery services have likely experienced its one major flaw firsthand: For JIT, logistics must be on point 100 percent of the time to keep supply consistent.

Blast freezers can act as a kind of insurance for supermarket fresh food inventories. Blast frozen food can retain its quality longer than conventionally frozen food, which means grocery stores can always keep supply on hand should deliveries be adversely affected by things like inclement weather or communication breakdown. That way, these retailers will never miss an opportunity to make a sale.

Don’t forget about vacuum sealers
The USDA also went on record saying hermetically sealed bags used in conjunction with freezing reduces freezer burn potential on all applicable foodstuffs. Blast freezers offer a wealth of financial and operational benefits to a prepared foods retailers, but these powerful machines require resources to adequately protect meats, fruits and vegetables from extreme cold. Anaerobic environments also help ward of other contaminants. If you’re considering an investment into a blast freezer, assess whether your current vacuum seal technology is up to snuff to take advantage of everything innovative kitchen equipment can provide.

If your business is looking into utilizing blast chilling and freezing technology, click here to check out some of our vacuum sealing and freezing equipment.