The company said the cash would be used at Preston to support the installation of a third cookpot, supplied by The Food Machinery Company and the addition of a new rotary packer, boosting production levels.
The cash would also be used to buy a freeze-dryer for the Denmark facility.
The total investment would allow it to continue to meet growing demand for nutritious long-life ingredients and commission drying services and ready meals, European Freeze Dry said. Its products include freeze-dried dairy and egg, fruit, meat, seafood, vegetables and pulses. It has the capability to deliver packaging and commissioned drying services as well as halal, kosher, free-from, vegan and organic products.
Unprecedented demand during pandemic
Diana Morris, country manager for European Freeze Dry, said: “We’ve been experiencing unprecedented demand for our ingredients. With meals having a shelf-life of up to 25 years in tins and seven years in pouches, our freeze dried options lend themselves to crises such as the pandemic.
“We’ve seen a dramatic rise in demand from the public and private sector as well as individual consumers who want tasty food which offers a longer shelf life, reduced waste and a lighter product for storage and transport.
“Freeze dried food lends itself to extreme situations in all kinds of circumstances from sustaining nutrition in remote locations to preparing for an extended period indoors. We are responding to different demands and resourcing our operations to satisfy existing and new customers in the public and private sectors.”
European Freeze Dry’s range of freeze-dried long-lasting ingredients include fruit, vegetables and seafood as part of its new vegan and gourmet ranges. The experimental kitchen allowed for new product development testing for ready meals, noodle pots and baking ingredients, it added.
The freeze-drying process
The freeze-drying process uses a deep vacuum under which neither ice or water can exist. The pressure from the vacuum, with a controlled amount of heat applied, causes the ice to leave the product as a vapour trail leaving a natural dried product.
The process takes on average a day to complete and is carried out in a set of ‘chambers’ which can be controlled at various temperatures and time schedules depending on specific product requirements.
The water reduction in the final product greatly inhibits the growth of microorganisms, leading to a shelf-life of up to two years at room temperature, without the use of preservatives.