Pilot retorts in the food industry and food packaging research

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Retorts for pilot batches and R&D tests

Many of us do not realise that behind any preserve or ready meal there is a food and packaging industry behind that has investigated, developed and produced that product ensuring it is safe for human consumption. And we take it for granted that the product we are looking for must always be on the shelf of our usual store.

However, for this process to work properly it is essential to have a very meticulous and conscientious food and packaging industry in the process of producing, packaging and labeling its products. Offering a food product that is poorly preserved or with some kind of anomaly would be fatal for the person who consumes it and also for the company brand and reputation.

Nowadays, the rise in competition coupled with an increasingly demanding consumer are leading companies in the food and packaging sector to allocate lots of resources on research, development and innovation of new food products. Aspects such as environment impact, sustainability, the quality of their products or the packaging are of vital importance. Now more than ever they give added value to brands, differentiating them from the rest.

The secret is in pilot batch testing with compact and versatile retorts

Pilot retorts in the food and packaging industry

Bringing new food products to market, developing new packaging options or the process of evaluation and validation of shelf life requires a lot of research and analysis. This is where the R&D laboratories (Research and Development) play a crucial role in achieving the perfect formula.

Laboratory technicians are responsible for determining which products are viable depending on the characteristics of each food ingredient and its behavior in certain combinations. Getting to the right combination takes into account multiple aspects such as the food additives and technology used.

From the different formulas, the researchers must evaluate the response in pilot batches before, during and after being pasteurized and/or sterilized. This means that they must examine the taste, texture, odor, color and shelf life of the food tested by subjecting it to heat treatments in a retort or autoclave.

Such pilot batch tests should be done on a small scale without wasting too much raw materials, time, energy, money or human resources. For this, it is necessary to own a small laboratory equipped with all the necessary equipment to carry out several different tests. In this way, we avoid interrupting the usual production of our company by not occupying the production equipment while doing these investigations.

If, on the other hand, we do not have such space or equipment, there are external laboratories equipped with everything that is necessary to carry out these pilot batches tests.

Pilot retorts, an essential equipment in pilot batch testing

If your company has its own laboratory or if it makes use of an external one, the rpilot retort is an essential piece of equipment to carry out tests in small-scale pilot batches while reproducing the parameters used in an industrial retort.

At TERRA Food-Tech® we are well aware of all this, which is why we have designed a benchtop compact retort for these type of tests, to pasteurize and/or sterilize any type of canned food or ready meal, with a chamber capacity from 22 to 79L.

A piece of equipment with a small footprint that is easy to install so that you can carry out tests in your own laboratory without having to go to the production plant and ask the production manager for his permission to allow you to carry out some tests.
In addition, the cost per cycle is much lower and these small retorts have all the necessary technology to simulate most of the conditions used in an industrial retort.

Did you know…

  • According to the report of FoodDrinkEurope, held in 2019, Spain is the third European country with the most companies in the food sector, with Italy and France ahead.
  • Despite this, Spain is not among the 16 European firms that appear on the list of the 2,500 companies in the sector that spend the most on R&D.
  • This study also reveals that, although at a European level the food industry is the first in job employment, it barely represents 0.23% of the total R&D spending. This is a ridiculous percentage when compared to other regions such as 0.75% in Australia, 0.66% in Korea, 0.64% in the US or 0.60% in Japan.

Advantages of TERRA Food-Tech® pilot retorts

TERRA Food-Tech pilot retorts for research

The suitability of this benchtop or horizontal pilot retort is not only due to its compact design, somewhat larger than a microwave, but also for its ease of use and many other advantageous features:

  • Specifically desgined retorts to carry out scientific trials and tests in small pilot batches of preserves and ready meals packed in hermetic containers in the food and packaging industry.
  • Regulation, control and recording of the Fo, Po, %Fo and %Po values; printable and downloadable in PDF format. Also storable on the computer and exportable via USB.
  • They can carry out stress and longevity tests of containers since you can customise any of its 50 programs with 5 initial segments and 5 final segments adjustable by pressure, temperature and pressure independently.
  • Suitable for cooking, sterilization and pasteurization of all types of food packaged in cans, glass, pouches or semirigid containers.
  • Programmable pressure support up to 2.1 Barg to avoid breakage or deformation of containers.
  • Fast cooling by water shower at the end of the cycle.
  • They respect the organoleptic and nutritional characteristics of the final product, quickly eliminating most bacteria and spores.
  • They include a flexible heart temperature probe expandable to a total of 2 flexible heart temperature probes.
  • SW8000: software kit and PC connection to export and store data from the pasteurization or sterilization cycle in trials and pilot batches.
  • Easy to use and program, with a color touchscreen and the ability to store up to 50 programs.
  • Excellent safety measures: safety valve and safety thermostat with manual rearm, door locking system and door open alarm, pressure and water level detectors, thermal protection around the lid and protective chassis of the sterilization chamber.
  • Multiple accessories for all types of projects: standard and custom trays, racks and tray supports, perforation kit for lids and semirigid containers.

All these advantages are also available for our range of top-loading vertical autoclaves, with chamber volumes from 33 to 175 liters, which have exactly the same technology and technical performance as horizontal or benchtop autoclaves. Vertical retorts are especially useful in those cases where it is required to produce larger pilot batches.

In addition, TERRA Food-Tech® pilot retorts for research are a product of RAYPA, a leading company in the field of sterilization with more than 40 years of experience in the manufacture of sterilization equipment.

For more information about our pilot retorts for scientific trials and pilot batch testing in the food and packaging industry do not hesitate tocontact our sales team. We will be happy to offer you a demonstration of everything that our retorts can do to contribute in your company product development efforts.

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