Consuming frozen asparagus is getting more popular as customers have changed their diet habits dramatically over the past decade. According to Kerry Hultin, the marketing coordinator for OctoFrost, the transportation of frozen asparagus can be a challenge: “We see an increased realization of the convenience and availability of frozen food, which resulted in the rise of the consumption of frozen vegetables. In addition, transporting fresh asparagus over a long distance comes with the risk of losing its nutritional value, flavor and taste. The alternative to IQF-freeze the asparagus is a great solution, as it locks in nutrients and flavor, while making sure the natural appearance is preserved.”
IQF-freezing asparagus is not an easy task however, as it comes with quite some challenges. “A more common and important challenge is to keep the tips of the asparagus in good shape. The tips are very brittle and can easily sustain damages during the processing process,” Hultin said. “This can be credited to the fact that the blancher, chiller and freezer are not created at a horizontal level. When the produce drops from one belt to another, the difference in height can cause damages which results in a lower selling price and thus a decrease in the profits for processors.”
Ensuring the best final product and optimal profitability starts with using the right equipment to process the produce. OctoFrost has the only horizontal processing line for IQF asparagus on the market: “The OctoFrost™ whole asparagus processing line consists of the IF blancher, IF chiller, and IQF tunnel freezer. Due to the fact the line is completely horizontal, it means the asparagus lay static during the entire process, and won’t drop from one level to the next. The asparagus come out of the freezer sorted just like they were laid on the blancher belt. This means the tips of the asparagus are safe from damages and no value of the produce is lost. We currently have the only horizontal processing line for IQF asparagus on the market. Traders have told us that they have no problem paying 5 to 30 per cent more for premium IQF products.” Hultin explains.
Kerry feels there is a bright future ahead for the IQF asparagus: “The trend of frozen asparagus is growing as consumers are becoming more familiar with healthy frozen foods. Like with any produce, the demand for high quality will increase as well. The OctoFrost IQF asparagus processing line guarantees the premium quality of the final IQF product which in return will bring new business opportunities and immense growth to any food processing company.”