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Driedfresh technology

NZ: Drying fruit and veg without losing nutrients

New Zealand is trying to get away from being reliant on the production of milk powder. It is second only to China in production and way ahead of third place EU. The dairy market is becoming very competitive, especially with subsidies in Europe and, according to some, growing protectionism in other countries.

To produce so much milk, farmers have to grow huge amounts of grass to feed the cattle and the government is trying to encourage farmers to grow some leafy salads and root veg as well as grass. But there needs to be a market for this produce.

The answer, according to Richard Guy from Driedfresh Ltd, is to dry the produce and turn it into powder which can be exported.

Blueberries just out of the dryer

Organic kale, collard greens, broccoli, leek, spinach, watercress, beetroot, fruit and berries and turmeric are just some of the products which are dried and turned into powder and can be used in drinks and smoothies.

"These powders, made by using Driedfresh dryers, are ideal for smoothies as they lose none of their nutritional value during the process and are very easy to use. The market for more natural medicines is also taking off and turmeric is becoming more and more popular. The difference between turmeric dried using this technology and the traditional method of boiling it and then leaving it in the sun to dry is amazing," according to Richard.

"What you need to hold the nutrients, taste and colour, is drying below 40°C, the microwave dryers can also do this but then you loose the nutritional value.

Photo: Smoothie mix

"The New Zealand government did a study on all the drying technology available to growers. We have spray dryers, freeze dryers and M-wave (microwave vacuum dryers) and Driedfresh technology, which is Osmotic Vacuum Drying in a Modified Atmosphere.

"We have been developing our technology for 20 years, its tricky because you have to be under a vacuum to dry at a low temperature and have no oxygen in there. These are the main hurdles you have to overcome with this drying technology, but we have successfully done this and we are using Scott technology in Dunedin to manufacture our dryers," explains Richard.

DriedFresh dryer

Drying hubs are being built in all the food bowl areas in New Zealand -Auckland and Hawks Bay are a couple of examples. The driers are containerized and so just need to be plugged into a power source. They can also be taken to the farms to dry the crops on site. The dryers from Driedfresh are leased and supported by a service network, they are linked to the internet so any problems can be detected right away.

"Apart from the amazing health benefits of fruit and vegetable powders this process also cuts waste as fruit which is not class I for export can easily be dried and powdered. This is especially important for the organic sector who have a smaller percentage of class I fruit," explains Richard. "You can get fully organic powdered kiwifruit for less than the non organic powder, the yield for organic growers is roughly 40% and the rest they need to get rid of. Broccoli leaves are normally thrown away as well but they have as much, if not more, nutritional value as the rest of the plant, we can turn those into powder too. Laws to reduce waste from supermarkets will come into force very soon in New Zealand and they will have find somewhere for the left- over produce to go, and one of these drying hubs is the perfect answer," concludes Richard.

Driedfresh are in the process of appointing sales agents for the dryers and produce.

For more information:
Richard Guy
Driedfresh Ltd
Mob +64 21 0319373
DDI +64 9 9749101

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